Marcus Strickland: Brotherhood (2003)
Look out for saxophonist Marcus Strickland. He's young, he's talented, and he already delivers the goods. His latest CD, Brotherhood, makes the case that he's got a lot to say. It's a varied set that ranges from burning post-bop and modal jazz to a gospel-influenced reflection on 9/11 and spirituality.
Strickland plays both tenor and soprano sax, improvising with a combination of power and finesse, and he never forgets to swing. His tenor sound is quite individualistic, as he fills the horn with a warm, slightly grainy tone. That he's got his own sound at a relatively young age certainly bodes well, although his soprano work is not quite as personal, owing something to Wayne Shorter, at least to my ears. Strickland solos effectively on all nine performances, particularly on "Values And Imperatives," "Predator," and "Splendour." (Eight of the nine tunes are Strickland originals.) He paces himself intelligently, often using short, punchy phrases and building his improvisations to climactic upper register shouts. In short, he tells a story.
The sidemen here are young and on fire, particularly the gifted pianist Robert Glasper, who plays electric piano on four tracks. He really tears it up. Hear how his comping on "Splendour" prods Strickland into a fiery soprano solo. Brandon Owens holds down the bass chair with imagination and swing. Marcus' twin brother E.J. Strickland plays drums, and he's another wunderkind. He does a lot more than play time; he breaks up the time into unexpected, unpredictable rhythm, always serving the music. Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt appears on two tracks, contributing solos to "Values And Imperatives" and "Predator." If you want to know where straight-ahead jazz is going, look no further than Brotherhood and Marcus Strickland.
Track Listing: Brotherhood, Values And Imperatives, Splendour, Amen, Predator, Epiphany, Excerpt, Saouse, The Unsung Hero.
Personnel: Marcus Strickland, tenor and soprano sax; Robert Glasper, piano and electric piano; Brandon Owens, bass; E.J. Strickland, drums and percussion; Jeremy Pelt, trumpet (tracks 2 and 5 only).