Eastern Standard Time
I’ve been looking forward to this record for a solid year, since I saw Eastern Standard Time do an amazing live set at a ska fest in Virginia. That’s a lot of time for anticipation to build. Most bands wouldn’t be able to live up those kinds of expectations. Most bands aren’t EST. If anything, Second Hand is even better than I expected, as EST sets a ska-jazz groove that puts most any band you can think of to shame.
The musicianship on this record is nothing short of incredible. Many bands attempt a ska-jazz hybrid, but few do it as convincingly. Even Jazz Jamaica, a band made up of ska legends, doesn’t do it as well as EST. Don’t believe me? Check out EST’s cover of Charlie Parker’s “Barbados,” then compare it to Jazz Jamaica’s version on their album Skaravan. While Jazz Jamaica’s version is great, it’s EST’s that takes home the prize. While the music may be laid back, the band isn’t; they’re sharp as a tack from start to finish, playing as a tight unit with nary a beat missed. Not only does the band play brilliantly together, but the solos all shine like diamonds. Each band member is among the most adept practitioners of his instrument. Listen to their cover of Thelonius Monk’s “Bemsha Swing” or the original number “Oh No!” for a few prime examples, and prepare to be blown away! The record is also studded with some outstanding guest contributions. Coolie Ranx lends his inimitable vocal talents to “Mad Dog,” Ele Jai and DC go-go legend Chuck Brown substitute for Derek and Patsy on a smooth cover of the classic “Housewive’s Choice,” and the Toasters’ own trumpet master, the Sledge, sits in on a few memorable tracks. The band doesn’t really need the help, but they certainly put it to good use!
Simply put, there’s not a misstep to be found on the record. With Second Hand, Eastern Standard Time has an early candidate for record of the year. I’ll be surprised if this one leaves my CD player before the year is over! Beatville Records, LLC, P.O. Box 42462, Washington, DC 20015; http://www.access.digex.net/~chkrdcab/est