Press | 2014
(Review by Mark Tucker)

ES2 is signatory of trombonist Erick Storckman and keyboard player Eliot King Smith, each of whose initials, ES, are therein squared, and who have a pronounced liking for the dignified funk side of the house. Dignified funk? Is there such a thing? There is now. It’s definitely funk but sports an uptown NYC patina even when tear-it-up guitarist Pete McCann jumps in with both feet, soloing. Thus, if ya wanna think Steps Ahead, Rippingtons, Yellowjackets, Fattburger, ‘n that sort of thing, then go ahead, I won’t stop ya, but there’s a more constant energetically basic jazz factor going on here than with those other ensembles.

Rock, too, as, again, McCann just wails when let loose. Storckman on ‘bone and Cliff Lyons on sax pair up for lyrical harmonies when not soloing, and Smith can claim a lot of the ol’ Zawinul broad palette colorations as he occupies damn near the entire midground…but Joe by way of Romantic inclinations. My favorite cut? Poor as Food, a showcase for Smith and Storckman (you can never get enough trombone, y’all). I know, I know, I’m nuts about McCann, and he’s barely on the track, but, man, the thematic variations and returns there are entrancing, with Scott Neumann hitting the traps first off-kilter metronomically and near the end almost Moon delirious, the band twisting all around the catchy measures. I loves me solos and tons of improv from all involved, I really do, but there’s much to be said of a well-crafted ditty that ya hafta hear again and again, and this is one of those beasts. That’s why I liked Passport so much.

The engineer’s not credited, though the mastering is (Andy VanDette, who perhaps handled both), but it’s a very good documentation job, everything perfectly balanced (coulda used a wee bit more mike on Andy Eulau’s often hoppin’ ‘n poppin’ bass, tho’), glowing with new jazz light, woven like a main course replete with appetizer, desert, and wine. Too often, this ilk of sonics suffers from too thin an inter-discourse element, but Algorhythms is rich and seasoned, tasty. Everyone is fully committed and lovin’ the gig, but damn, man, that McCann! Lots of Chuck Loeb and outta control Lee Ritenour in him, so, next time, guys, more o’ dat, please! | 2014

(If what) you’re thirsting after (in your jazz) involves RED-hot fun…. this CD will “get you there”! Just check out the smokin’ “Job Search” to get an idea of why I say that! Eliot’s keyboards, to include some fantastic organ work, join Erick’s totally blissed-out trombone to orbit you off into the ether – whether you’re out of a job or not! This is some of the most enjoyable jazz I’ve heard (yet) this year, & I’m going to ask the promoter to make SURE I get all their future work together. Of the 8 tunes offered up, I found the jumpin’ “Midnight On Michigan Avenue” to be my absolute favorite… cool, slinky jazz, to be sure, that gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99! Get more information about these great & highly talented players at Erick’s website. | 2014
(Review by Jack Goodstein)

ES2 is a jazz sextet led by keyboardist Eliot Smith and trombonist Erick Storckman—get it, ES squared. Now while I like clever word play as much as the next guy, what I want from a new jazz disc is good music. Happily, Smith, Storckman and their cohorts have loaded their new album, AlgoRhythms (more clever word play) with more than enough of the good stuff to keep the snarky among us from cringing at the cutesy language.

Working with original compositions by either Smith or Storckman or the two in combination, the sextet takes a varied journey through a broad sector of the jazz spectrum. Both composers start with memorable melodies and arrangements that give them and their talented crew plenty of opportunity for inventive solo work, opportunities they take full advantage of. From the opening number, “Orange Peel” with strong solo work from Storckman, as well as saxophonist Cliff Lyons and Pete McCann on guitar, to the gospel-driven closer, “At Long Last,” with Storckman taking the lead for Lyons to join in, the ensemble delivers the goods.

While I am tempted to say they save the best for last, there is too much fine music throughout for that to be entirely true. There are those that will find the lightly Latin-rhythmed “Poor as Food” more to their taste, and those who will prefer McCann’s twangy talking guitar work on the groovy “Swanky Goes Shopping.”

There are those who will like the funky vibe of “Job Search,” although I, for one, would get rid of the opening spoken work intro and the ambient city noise. “Our Man in Verona” has an infectious melody and the solos are dynamic and powerful.

“Midnight, Michigan Avenue” is introduced by drummer Scott Neumann, who continues along with Smith’s electric piano and the electric bass of Andy Eulau to lay a solid foundation for this bop excursion. In other words, there is something on the album for many different tastes.
AlgoRhythms is a solid piece of work, the kind of album that deserves some attention. | 2000

Jazz trombonist/composer Erick Storckman is the kind of artist who can fall too easily between the cracks in a 21st century musical landscape divided up between Wynton Marsalis-school classicists and unrelentingly avant-garde free jazzers. SCRAPBOOK stands as proof that contemporary jazz composition is far from a lost art. Storckman is equally adept at penning a spare, elegant ballad (“The Golden Boy”), a churning, bluesy burner (“Purify”), or a hard-bopper (“This Thing Called Madness”). It doesn’t hurt that Storckman surrounds himself with a stellar group of New York jazzers. Trumpeter Rob Henke’s light-hearted fluidity, sax man Mary Fogel’s marriage of intellect and burning passion … aid his cause greatly. SCRAPBOOK provides a candid snapshot of the artist in motion, standing still just long enough for you to catch a glimpse of his muse at work.

Audiophile Voice | 2000

His trombone playing is impressive as is his mellifluous tone. [Scrapbook] makes an emotional connection on a personally revealing level, and has a dash of hot sauce put in for good measure.

52nd St. Jazz | 2000

Storckman’s tone and control on the trombone are delicious, smooth and velvety … His lyric style on the ballad “Barbara” is particularly beautiful, somewhat reminiscent of Urbie Green, while the plunger-mute solos on the light-hearted shuffle “Barefoot Dance” fairly brim with good humor. His compositional prowess is impressive; his tunes have grace, balance and flow, and his melodies are frequently hummable … [Scrapbook] shows not only promise, but also a considerable amount of delivery. I’m looking forward to hearing more of Erick Storckman, especially his horn, composing and arranging.

The New York Times | 2000

Breathtaking balladry.

The Newark Star-Ledger | 2008
(Review by Zan Stewart)

The last Wednesday of the month at Trumpets Jazz Club in Montclair has belonged to Diane Moser’s Composers Big Band for some time now. This Wednesday, however, the generous Ms. Moser gave that night over to one of her star trombonists and composers, Erick Storckman, who led his bravura septet.

For the handful of listeners there for the first set — a disappointing turnout, as this band, like Moser’s CBB, deserves to be widely heard — Storckman laid out a rich banquet of modern mainstream to bordering-abstract sounds, stimulating his musicians and the audience. The band was comprised of NYC/NJ jazz scene stalwarts: Storckman, trumpeter Rob Henke, tenor and soprano saxophonist Marty Fogel, alto saxophonist Tom Colao, pianist Mitch Schechter, bassist Mike Carino, and drummer Scott Neumann. Also along was guest guitarist Josh Rubin. Variously, these fellows have played with such notables as Moser, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Papo Vasquez, Ray Barretto, and the Spirit of Life Ensemble.

Storckman is a fine composer and arranger who can write compelling themes and rich textures. When the writing is dense, his ensemble sounds like a little big band. When the writing is leaner, the septet’s more like a combo where soloists stand front and center. Most of the material was drawn from his two CDs: 2000’s “Scrapbook” and 2006’s “Chuckle Factor” (both Twin Rivers Records). The opening “Purify” — a blues theme that shifted between semi-abstraction and solid swinging — found the horns offering call-and-response phrases at points. It gave all the members a couple of solo choruses to loosen up. Then came the engaging Latin number, “Sy Kosis,” with a theme of smooth statements followed by punchy remarks. Here, and throughout the set, Schechter, Carino, and Neumann underpinned the piece with vital rhythm, the drummer especially boisterous. Henke’s improvisation, bolstered by occasional horn shouts, showcased his buzzy-to-clarion tone, his way of making small statements say a lot, and his exciting manner of starting a phrase in the low range and ripping fast to a high, ringing note. Subsequently, Storckman, Colao and Fogel all exposed their rich sounds and capacity for meaty, percolating remarks, and Rubin scored with charged ideas delivered via a wiry, pliable tone.

The leader was spotlighted on the lush ballad, “The Golden Boy,” which shifted tempos enticingly. At points, his big, round notes hung in the air like glowing lanterns. Schechter’s riveting slot boasted chords played at a whisper. “Barefoot Dance” was a spirited, funky-leaning number with a bold Neumann beat and all the horns in for the theme, with the leader adding humorous, vocal-like sentiments via a cup mute. Fogel and Henke soloed simultaneously, sometimes weaving their lines together, creating waves of sound elsewhere. Colao scored with bluesy turns and flowing bursts, and Rubin added funky clusters over band riffs. Also heard were the spiffy jazz waltz, “One for Jeano,” and the zipping-right-along, spunky-themed “Chuckle Factor.”