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Todd Marcus | Trio+

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Don Byron John Coltrane Sonny Rollins

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United States - Maryland

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Jazz: Post-Bop Jazz: Mainstream Jazz Moods: Instrumental
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Trio+

by Todd Marcus

A straight-ahead jazz album using bass clarinet as the lead horn on originals, jazz standards, and a tribute to sax great Sonny Rollins.
Genre: Jazz: Post-Bop
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
clip
1. Something Suite (1st Movement)
3:45 album only
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2. Something Suite (2nd Movement)
1:27 album only
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3. Something Suite (3rd Movement)
4:01 album only
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4. Something Suite (4th Movement)
4:50 album only
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5. Cantata
6:40 album only
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6. Amy Pookie
2:56 album only
clip
7. My Foolish Heart
9:14 album only
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8. Neophilia
6:51 album only
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9. How Deep Is the Ocean (Intro)
2:13 album only
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10. How Deep Is the Ocean
5:23 album only
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11. Invitation
7:04 album only
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12. Plummeting
6:36 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes

Todd Marcus and the Bass Clarinet: Further Definitions, by Eugene Holley, Jr.

Of all of the woodwind instruments in jazz, the bass clarinet boasts a small, but impressive fraternity of virtuosos, including: Eric Dolphy, David Murray, and Don Byron, to name a very select few. The New Jersey-born, Baltimore-based Todd Marcus is the latest to join those lords of the lower frequencies. Stylistically, Marcus is a synthesis of the best of those aforementioned masters - particularly - Byron, along with the hometown saxophone influences of Gary Bartz and Gary Thomas. He’s recorded four CD’s as a leader, In Pursuit of the 9th Man, Inheritance, Blues for Tahrir and On These Streets (A Baltimore Story) that range from quartet, quintet, and nonet and deal with the jazz tradition, his paternal Egyptian heritage, and his predominantly African-American Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood where he serves as a community activist.

On his new CD, Trio+ Marcus moves in a new, leaner and meaner direction. “It’s an intentional desire to do something to differentiate from my previous recordings, being the large jazz orchestra, my quartet record and my last project, which was a quintet musical portrait of my community,” he says. “I spent a lot of time composing sprawling and epic works on those, and I wanted to do something a little more streamlined this time. In some ways, this is the most traditional album I’ve done.”

Joining Marcus on this impressive bass clarinet, bass and drum trio recording - augmented with a few tracks that feature the trumpet - are drummers Ralph Peterson, a vivid and volcanic drummer since he debuted in the Young Lions era of the eighties, Baltimore drummer Eric Kennedy, bassist Ameen Saleem who splits his time between his native Washington, DC and Italy plus Baltimore bassist Jeff Reed, and trumpeter Sean Jones, a recent transplant to the city.

“I played with Ralph a few years ago, and I’ve enjoyed his playing for years,” Marcus says. “He’s significant to me with the clarinet and bass clarinet because he’s long featured those instruments in his group, called the Fo’tet, that have included Don Byron and David Murray. I asked Ralph who he liked on bass in this area, and he mentioned Ameen, who I started working with last year and has toured with me promoting my prior album On These Streets. When Ralph couldn’t make the second recording session for this album, Eric, who played on my last three records, filled in. I also use Jeff who is a wonderful bass player with a beautiful tone and [sense of] time. Some tracks needed a second horn because of the arrangements so I reached out to Sean who’s been in Baltimore for a year now. He heads the Jazz Department at Peabody and is a monster player, a wonderful musician and a great guy - very musical.”

On the original compositions - all written by Marcus - and two standards, Marcus’ bulletproof, full-bodied bass clarinet tones have never sounded better, whether he’s playing ballads with the quietude of a crystal silence, or swinging at the speed of sound, buoyed by Peterson, Saleem, Kennedy, Reed and Jones working in alternating ensembles. The largest work on the CD is Marcus’ “Something Suite” - his four-movement opus, directly inspired by tenor saxophone colossus Sonny Rollins’ 1958 masterpiece, “The Freedom Suite.” On Marcus’ work, which is based on short, motivic themes, backed by Peterson and Saleem, the first movement is driven by a polyrhythmic infectious 4/4 pulse contrasted by the Latin-tinged lilt of the second movement. The next section features slow and sensual brushstrokes, with the final movement closing out the opus in a volcanic flourish.

The album’s other terrific triad tracks include the waltzy “Cantata,” the only track which spotlights the classical sound of the leader on B-flat clarinet, and a melodic-mazed, multi-tempoed reading of the standard, “How Deep is the Ocean.” The addition of the Freddie Hubtoned, Don Cherry-like trumpeter Sean Jones expands the trio into a formidable foursome, as evidenced by “Amy Pookie,” the playful, Ornette Coleman-style shout-out to Marcus’ wife, an atmospheric ballad rendering of the standard, “My Foolish Heart,” the post-bop pulse of “Invitation,” an invigorating update of Marcus’ “Plummeting,” originally released in 2006 on In Pursuit of the 9th Man, and a different kind of quartet combo, featuring both Reed and Saleem on bass on a rhythmic reboot of the legendary bass clarinetist Benny Maupin’s African-anthemed “Neophilia,” recorded as “Neophila 2006” on his album, Penumbra thirteen years ago.

As this recording aurally illustrates, Todd Marcus has successfully catapulted the bass clarinet well past the change of the 21st century, in a variety of moods, genres and grooves that show how diverse the instrument’s dark and lovely sound can be.

“For me and my identity, the bass clarinet is underrepresented in jazz,” Marcus says, “and I want to show that it could be more than just a free or avant-garde [instrument]. I want to show that the bass clarinet can be equal to the saxophone in modern straight-ahead jazz.”

Eugene Holley, Jr contributes to Down Beat, Hot House and Publisher’s Weekly. He wrote a profile of Todd Marcus in the Winter 2019 edition of Chamber Music Magazine.


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