Samir Zarif: Starting Point (2011)
Born out of life's experiencesgrowing up in a family of musicians, the loss of his mother to leukemia, and an emerging career in jazz that has carried him from New Orleans to New YorkStarting Point is a personal statement, articulated through acoustic and electronic instruments, spoken word and vocals, and improvisation. Zarif's arid tenor is at the heart of ten tracks that can portray a monastic serenity in "Circle of Truth" or a gritty abstract swagger in "Fear and Deception." The recording's fresco is painted with multicolored strokes of expressionism, spirituality and intrepid confidence.
A variety of talented musicians and David Binney's exquisite production give birth to Zarif's storytelling concepts. There's a tranquil mysticism in "Dancing In A Garden Of Dead Roses," with earnest lyrics sung by Zarif and Maria Neckam, or "The Story Of "The Old Man's Box," where Zarif recites words in a parable-like setting. The cerebral "This Life" contains a nice pop hook that personifies the "jazz alternative" categorization in the best terms. But make no mistake: Zarif's double-barreled sax acrobatics in "Precocious Nation," with alto saxophonist Lars Dietrich. are some of the most inventive exchanges heard anywhere. In contrast, the hypnotic "Keep The Faith" is its antithesis, a composition that would make Björk smile.
Incorporating a multicultural persona of idioms Starting Point's appeal is found in its ability to draw upon a variety of stimuli and most importantly Zarif's inner voice.
Track Listing: Circle Of Truth; Dancing In A Garden Of Dead Roses; Letter To The Brothers; Precocious Nation; The Old Man's Box; The Story Of "The Old Man's Box"; Interlude To Life; Fear & Deception; This Life; Keep The Faith.
Personnel: Samir Zarif: soprano saxophone (3, 5, 7), tenor saxophone (1, 2, 4, 7-9), vocals (2, 6, 9, 10), electronics (6, 10); Zack Lober: electric bass (2, 5, 7), acoustic bass (1, 3, 4, 8, 9); Colin Stranahan: drums (1, 4, 7-9), percussion (1); Greg Ritchie: drums (2, 3, 5); Maria Neckam: vocals (2, 9); Lars Dietrich: alto saxophone (4, 8).
Record Label: Mythology Records