“Electro Sax” Might Be Elan Trotman’s Finest Release


Elan Trotman provides amped up jazz on album, “Electro Sax,” the saxophonist’s follow-up to 2013’s, “Tropicality.”

One standout from that album was a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Master Blaster (Jammin’).” Trotman’s nimble saxophone gave a voice to the instrumental that I couldn’t have predicted. A seamless ensemble provides the sounds of backup singers. It is an instrumental chorus that shouldn’t be missed. Listeners who liked Trotman’s treatment of the R&B-infused island sound will appreciate what he does on “Electro Sax.”

“Electro Sax”

The mosaic of sound invigorates this track. At the beginning, a keyboard and guitar are having a tentative conversation. The horn interrupts, and the melody line is built atop a pounding dance beat that is mitigated by a wailing, psychedelic guitar. Drums accentuate the percussive sounds of the dance beat, and the ultramodern wave of sound makes this song incredibly dance-y. A song for the club, or a party at home. This celebration of sound is meant to be shared.

While there is plenty to say about the way the saxophone speaks on several of Trotman’s tracks, it should be noted that synthesizers and brass raise a chorus that could easily have been sung by humans. The hypnotic rhythm of the dance beat is a constant that helps keep the song fun and modern. In the world of “Electro Sax” instruments appear to have lives of their own.

“Shut Up and Dance”

Peter Frampton once changed the world of rock music with his talking guitar. Trotman is doing the same to the world of jazz with the nimble notes of his saxophone. Each syllable that would have been sung by Walk the Moon’s lead singer gets clear and full treatment here. The effect is smooth, and not the staccato bleating that can sometimes occur when musicians attempt to make instruments do things that they were not made for, or those things that require techniques that the musician has not mastered.

Along with the electro sax, Trotman infuses this song with island percussion, and what sounds like a drum machine. Like “Electro Sax” the result is a tropical-sounding celebration of good times. It is difficult to be bogged down by the realities of things like torrential downpours when this song plays — sunshine seems inevitable.

“Barbados Breeze”

Trotman’s influence continues to be the sound of islands. Here, synthesizer, saxophone, and percussion rush together in an urban groove that any number of rappers would probably like to put lyrics over. Instead of words this time, the saxophone is the full, island breeze that blows through the song, and when it disappears, the other instruments break down the beat, and listeners realize there is yet another danceable song on this album.

The album is the product of technology, yet it captures the feel of the natural world and the lives of humans in some of the world’s most beautiful places—islands. Listeners might not have been expecting a saxophone to work so well with a drum machine, or a certain style of guitar, but then again, Trotman’s work so far, seems to be anything but predictable.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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