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Do The Math

Ellery Eskelin Interview – Do The Math

29 August 2016

Ellery Eskelin is not only an extraordinary musician but an extraordinary mind, too. To hear or read him talk about music and life, it is clear that he is thoughtful and incredibly eloquent. The more you read, the more you want to talk with him yourself, pose questions and share ideas.


In 2013, Ellery was interviewed by Jacob Wuntsch for Do The Math, Ethan Iversson’s excellent jazz blog. After a few years studying with Eskelin, Jacob conducted this formal interview and took the opportunity to talk at length about music and to play recordings to Ellery in a ‘blindfold test’ set-up. It is a glimpse into the thought that goes into improvised music and the inspiration drawn from jazz standards into contemporary playing.

The interview is fascinating and insightful and we urge you all to visit the site to read it in its entirety. (While you’re there, take a moment to look around the rest of Do The Math – pianist Ethan Iverson has done an amazing job in putting the site together and it consistently publishes some of the most articulate and interesting content on jazz and improvised music anywhere in the world.)

To precede the conversation, Jacob says

 Ellery is a deliberate speaker, doesn’t like to generalize or talk about things he feels he doesn’t understand, but he’s also unusually open-minded and tolerant of half-baked ideas. He has the air of a perpetual student, and the gravity of one who’s been playing professionally his entire adult life. Simple discoveries still excite him, as do challenges to his thinking. He’s generous in describing his struggles in order to reassure me about my own. 

If you only read one thing today, make sure it’s this.

Interview with Ellery Eskelin (by Jacob Wunsch)