Marcus Strickland Twi-Life Group The Jazz Standard 116 East 27th Street New York, NY 10016 Tuesday, April 3, 2007, 7:30 PM
Marcus Strickland: tenor saxophone
Mike Moreno: guitar
Carlos Henderson: electric bass
E.J. Strickland: drums
Malachi: spoken word
Keyon Harrold: trumpet
Marcus Strickland is very personable and quite savvy business-wise, and the Jazz Standard was almost full for the early show. Cephas Bowles and Thurston Briscoe of WBGO Jazz Radio in New York City were in attendance, besides the many vocal fans in the audience.
Strickland has created a lot of buzz with the recent release of the double CD Twi-Life on his own label Strick Muzik, and on this show he brought the sound of the band that appeared on the second record.
The music consisted mostly of tunes for his new project Open Reel Deck, which was being recorded live, and represented an evolution of the sound of the music and band from the earlier album.
Jazz to me is really more of an ethos rather than a style, and a jazz performer creates music that is more or less improvised, expressing his or her being in real time. The style is less important, but useful in terms of applying a label that might, to some degree, give an idea of what the music sounds like. While racial politics should not really have a place in music, the life experience of the performer most certainly does. When speaking about his new project, Strickland said that the title came from a piece of audio equipment used in his parent's house, and thus the music that he heard as a child.
The music was very powerful, with some of the deepest grooves I have heard in a long time. The extremely solid team of Henderson and E.J. Strickland laid down African rhythms combined with funk as Henderson played long vamp lines that had a strong accent on the first beat of the measure. Without even a hint of "swinging" triple time, the rhythm section created an extremely strong-body feel, which all the musicians, especially the trumpeter Harrold, and the audience could not help but move to.
Floating on top of this undulating river of sound was Moreno's guitar. The music's harmony was predominantly static, or at most circular, and the tremolo, cloud-like chords created an interesting contrast with the dark bottom. Strickland, Harrold and Moreno played extended solos, usually after the head was introduced by the sax and trumpet.
Strickland met Malachi on MySpace, liked his hip-hop influenced poetry, and brought him into the project. Having a very powerful voice with extremely clear diction, Malachi's word rhythms added yet another layer to the music as they interacted with the groove that was in place.
The total effect of the sound of the band was a deeply satisfying mix of body and mind, and much of the first-set crowd stayed on for the second set.