“I was first captivated by Peter Ecklund’s music before there were compact discs. In 1987, his bright cornet sounds came leaping out of the speaker as soon as I began to play KEEPERS OF THE FLAME, a Marty Grosz record (Stomp Off). Then I bought and treasured PETER ECKLUND AND HIS MELODY MAKERS—now happily reissued on CD as HORN OF PLENTY (Classic Jazz).
But wait! There’s more. Let me break into this discography/memoir and add a soundtrack: click on http://www.peterecklundmusic.com/for a charming musical background—Peter and friends playing his compositions and a few standard tunes.
…Here’s something even more encouraging: a new Peter Ecklund CD, called BLUE SUITCASE. It’s available at CDBaby as a download or disc (http://cdbaby.com/Artist/Peter Ecklund2)—for the ultimate musical experience, you can buy a copy from him at a gig. What more could anyone want? Peter Ecklund—on cornet, trumpet, fluegelhorn, ukulele, whistling (he’s a master), composing and creating just-right musical backgrounds. (And where many CDs labor under the weight of their creator’s narrowly intense artistic vision—where the result is seventy-five minutes of the same thing—this one is a tasting menu of surprises.)
And a word about that suitcase. If you’d asked me in other circumstances for my feelings about having a splendid jazz soloist accompanied by something technological, I would have become anxious. I’ve heard too many CDs where (perhaps for budgetary reasons) the “strings” come out of a box, and they bear the same relation to actual strings as dehydrated soup mix does to soup.
But Peter Ecklund’s imaginative efforts here aren’t an attempt to offer imitations at reduced prices. Rather, Peter’s backgrounds and melodies that come out of the Blue Suitcase are evocative additions, swirling around the human players and singers: this CD is a ticket inside his imaginations, and that’s a wonderful gift. Besides, it makes me think of a famous Louis Armstrong anecdote. Someone had asked him (off the record), ‘Louis, how do you stand playing with bands where the musicians are well below your level?’ And he’s supposed to have replied, ‘You start relying on other musicians and it’s too bad for you!’ Peter’s surrounded himself with first-rate players on this CD: among them Dan Block, Will Holshouser, Andrew Guterman, Joel Eckhaus, Melody Federer, Christine Balfa, Murray Wall, Gary Burke, Marty Laster, and Matt Munisteri. And the BLUE SUITCASE, a most magical piece of luggage, by Peter’s side for these wonderful journeys.”
— Michael Steinman, Jazz Lives, 2010
"I’ve been especially impressed by the trumpeter, cornetist and flugelhornist Peter Ecklund. As we used to put it, he’s “saying something” when he plays. I've heard Ecklund now in a number of diferent contexts. He can remind you at times of a host of people from Armstrong to Beiderbecke to Harry James to Harry Edison to Art Farmer, but his approach, including a sound that’s multi-textured and rich with contrasts, is totally individuated. Just a few notes and you know that it’s him. His solos, consistently crafted with wit and intelligence—unerringly musical—can be powerfully dynamic and emotive, and his presence in an ensemble always serves to extend the musicians he’s working with. In his own group, Blue Suitcase, which has been playing occasionally at the Greenwich Village Bistro on Carmine Street, he draws not only on jazz but on a classical training, extensive experience with rock and pop bands, outstanding song writing and arranging skills, computer technology and a droll sense of humor, to produce music that’s inventive, edgy and immediately seductive. He’s a genuine artist. The real thing."
— from "The War is Over: A Conversation About Jazz with Robert Levin," All About Jazz, 2010
"Two different approaches to the music of Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton were used by the two groups who played their music on a program called "New Orleans to Chicago" on Monday at the Equitable Auditorium as part of the JVC Jazz Festival...
The cornetists in each group had a crucial role since they were playing parts created by Louis Armstrong. Peter Ecklund, the cornetist in the Sancton group, rose brilliantly to the daunting challenge of playing, one after the other, four of Armstrong's most celebrated solos—"West End Blues," "Cornet Chop Suey," "Wild Man Blues" and "Potato Head Blues." Tony Pringle, the cornetist and leader of the Black Eagles, filled his Armstrong roles with less virtuoso emphasis, sharing that aspect with the Black Eagles clarinetist, Billy Novick, and the sousaphone player, Eli Newburger, who gave rugged, eruptive solidity to the band's rhythm section.
The two bands were supplemented by a pair of individual views of Armstrong and Morton. Danny Barker, the 82-year-old guitarist, banjo player and singer who grew up in New Orleans, knew Armstrong and Morton when they were playing there and offered some reminiscences of them, while Bob Greene, a New Yorker who is a Morton specialist, played several Morton piano solos including Morton's demonstration of how he transformed a quadrille into "Tiger Rag."
— John S. Wilson, The New York Times, June 1991
Comments on HORN OF PLENTY
"As I write this... I have no idea what will be the state of the world as you read it. Maybe it's just me, but lately I have been desperate for some good news. There seems to be a surfeit of the other kind, so this delightful CD seemed to be just what I needed as I set about my review. The assembled musicians are top-flight and often associated with playing in a style which harks back to an age of optimism (musically at least). Yes, in the '30s, the world was emerging from a real depression but, maybe as a reaction, the music being produced was all about escapism. The sound of the three disparate groups assembled here takes you back to the music being made by, for example, Paul Whiteman, and Bix and his Gang. The instrumentation is straight from that era, including either tuba or bass sax, occasionally a banjo and, also occasionally, no less than two rhythm guitars. The choir of tunes and style pre-disposes the result to a joyful, nimble-footed sound. The presence of musicians such as the leader, Peter Ecklund, and the wonderful Marty Grosz, tells you to expect music with a smile, and so it is... There are a few seldom-heard tunes, which might properly be described as neglected: "I'm in Seventh Heaven" was, apparently, performed by Bing Crosby with Paul Whiteman, following its appearance in a Jolson film (which flopped). "Anything" is a similarly rarely-heard melody. The highlight of the whole CD is, undoubtedly, "Bull Frog Blues" by Frank Teschemacher. It has a fine Dan Barrett solo followed by a really 'bluesy' Muranyi clarinet solo. Peter Ecklund's muted offering is just superb. When the whole ensemble joins in the ride-out, you just want it to continue. "Sorry" will, I guess, always be associated with the Beiderbecke version. Whilst avoiding a straightforward cover, Ecklund's playing inevitably reminds you of Bix, but I, for one, am not complaining. This CD succeeded in brightening my day, and for that I'm grateful. What a wonderful tonic music can be!"
— Barry Clare, Just Jazz Magazine, December 2008
"It's great when a leader takes care to bring us some nearly-forgotten gems, rather than recording just the same Dixieland warhorses that everyone has heard a million times. This album—Peter Ecklund's debut as a leader—includes a few older tunes that I never expected anyone to record again.
And throughout, Ecklund has focused on making the best possible music, not just showcasing his own playing. Too many leaders get self-indulgent when they record. They solo endlessly, using sidemen basically to provide backgrounds for them, which can get boring. You will hear a good deal of Ecklund's lively cornet on this album, but you will also hear a good deal of Dan Barrett's trombone, Vince Giordano's bass sax, Frank Vignola's guitar, Joe Muranyi's clarinet, etc. both in solo spots and in ensemble passages (plenty of them). Ecklund knows listeners welcome variety.
...to play the old-time jazz [he] plays on this album, you have to have a feel for the spirit of the music. And an understanding of the pre-bebop trumpet tradition. And [Ecklund] clearly does."
— Chip Deffa, New York Post, 1988
"This is a wonderful album by Peter Ecklund. Perhaps his best ever and he's assisted by a terrific band of top level jazz musicians. The program is very diversified, with some great contributions by Marty Gross on vocals and acoustic guitar. If there's one early jazz album you pick up this month this is definitely the one."
— Pat Decchis