The opening title track is pleasantly reminiscent of Dave Holland’s Conference of the Birds, exhibiting a pleasing fluid folkish melodicism on soprano similarly evident on “Splendor,” another straight horn feature. On tenor he exhibits a robust sound, smoothly hard swinging on the Messengerish “Values and Imperatives” (on which he’s joined by guest trumpeter Jeremy Pelt) and more strident on the exotic “Amen” (featuring E. J.’s frame drum and tambourine). Pelt is also heard on “Predator,” where he is effectively paired with leader’s straight horn in an exciting recital propelled E.J.’s aggressive drumming.
Stickland’s legato soprano, the horn which may well be his primary instrument, is particularly moving on his “Epiphany,” where Owens’ arco bass and Glasper’s Fender Rhodes provide a beautiful background and “Saouse,” on which he’s evocative of Yusef Lateef’s exotic lyricism. Eight of the pieces by Marcus and a ninth by E.J. (“The Unsung Hero”) are extremely intelligently crafted, well developed compositions. Suffice it to say, this is music that is well worth hearing and will reward repeated listening with a timely insight into some of the directions that jazz will definitely be moving towards in the future.
This review originally appeared in AllAboutJazz-New York .
Track Listing: 1. Brotherhood 2. Values & Imperatives 3. Splendour 4. Amen 5. Predator 6. Epiphany 7. Excerpt 8. Saouse 9. The Unsung Hero
Personnel: Marcus Strickland (ss, ts), Robert Glasper (p, Fender Rhodes), Brandon Owens (b) and E.J. Strickland (d, percussion). Special guest: Jeremy Pelt (tp)
Record Label: Blue Moon
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