Michael Martin: Odyssey
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P>Michael Martin resembles a troubadour in that these wandering (a permanent odyssey, perhaps) minstrels of yore were often the major source of news. Martin's play list on this album covers a wide swatch of melodies that recount tales covering many things and using a number of vocal techniques to do so. Most tunes are from the pens of Joe Melnikas and Rob Mullins. With Martin on this undertaking are a wide variety of performers, several of them from jazz's A list, such as Freddie Hubbard, Hubert Laws, Wilton Felder and Ralph Penland. They are not just there for show. They take an active part in shaping how the material is presented. Hubert Law's free as a bird flute is at the forefront on "Aya", which has Martin mouthing wild incantations to some unknown deity. The piccolo of Hollis Gentry III helps move along the calypso "Bip Bam Bou", a cut where the backup vocalists have as much to say as Martin. Classical flautist and composer Danilo Lozano takes on the flute duties on the medley "Autumn Leaves"/"Misty Morning". These are not the well-known compositions of the same name written by Mercer, Kosma, Prevert and by Duke Ellington, respectively. This medley capsulizes the big problem with this album. It suffers from a plethora of instrumentation and vocal helpers. On most tracks Martin's pleasant voice, delivery and interpretative skills are lost midst the clutter. Now and then he gets to do his thing without being bombarded by heavy orchestrations and backup vocal support. One of these occasions is "Misty" which has just piano and rhythm. And voila! You find out that this guy has a nice voice. This album could have benefitted considerably with a lot less jumble.
Track Listing: Autumn Leaves/Misty Morning; Odyssey; Stormy Blue; Waiting for Godot; Park Avenue West; Talk to Me; Misty; Soft Eyes; Moulin Rouge; Bip
Personnel: Michael Martin - Vocal; Debra Laws, Eloise Laws, Barbara Jones, Naomi Plair - Backup Vocal; Dwight Dickerson - Piano; Simeon Pillich, David Carpenter. Tim Powell - Bass; Aaron Ballestros, Ndugu Chancler - Drums; Alfonso Smith - Congas; Danilo Lozano - Flute; Joseph Julian Gonzalez - Classical Guitar; Rob Mullins- Keyboards; Larry Kimpel - Bass; Ralph Penland - Drums/Percussion; Hollis Gentry III - Flute/Wooden Piccolo/Soprano Sax; Tony Guerrero, Jorge Arcienega - Flugelhorn; Johnny Bone - Trombone; Robin DiMaggio, Ricardo Estrada - Percussion; Wilton Felder, Greg Vail - Tenor Sax; Michael Power, Mike O'Neil - Guitar; Freddie Hubbard; Steve Loza, Jorge Arcienega - Trumpet; Hubert Laws - Flute; Ronnie laws - Tenor Sax
Record Label: Merrimack