Duology + 2 Cafe OtoLondonNovember, 13, 2009
The opening night of the London Jazz Festival provided a rare opportunity to hear clarinetist Michael Marcus and trumpeter Ted Daniel--two seasoned, but unsung denizens of the New York scene--in the intimate surroundings of Dalston's Cafe Oto.
Marcus made his debut with the blues bands of Albert King and Bobby “Blue" Bland, before becoming a prominent figure in the free jazz scene from the 1980s onward with the likes of Sonny Simmons, Frank Lowe, Jemeel Moondoc and Denis Charles. Probably his most high profile gig is ...read more
Improvisers who concentrate on the clarinet are a select bunch, perhaps something to do with the difficulty of navigating its tricky three registers--a far cry from the early days of jazz when the clarinet's cry was integral to Dixieland and swing ensembles. Multi-instrumentalist Michael Marcus has only lately joined that coterie lost in the licorice stick's possibilities, saying in a 2007 interview , I find it easier now to fulfill some of my thoughts with the clarinet, through musical articulations during improvisation, than I ever did with the members of the saxophone family." Best known for his long-standing association with ...read more
Michael MarcusLotus SymphonyNot Two2008 The CosmosamaticsFree Within The LawNot Two2008 DuologyGolden AtomsSoul Note2008 Saxophonist and clarinetist Michael Marcus further establishes his versatility with these three recent releases. In various instrumental configurations and featuring long-time collaborators, these are diverse discs where craft and commitment merge to create thought-provoking and soulful listening experiences. Lotus Symphony finds Marcus in the company of several groups based on ...read more
A criminally under-sung multi-instrumentalist, Michael Marcus' collaborations with Ted Daniel, Frank Lowe, and Sonny Simmons over the past two decades have yielded some of the most enduring and adventurous sounds in modern jazz. A soulful stylist on soprano, alto, and baritone saxophone, Marcus is also an advocate of the more esoteric members of the saxophone family, such as the manzello, stritch, and saxello (all originally popularized by Rahsaan Roland Kirk).
Lately however, Marcus has abandoned doubling in order to focus solely on the clarinet, recording with it exclusively for the first time on The Magic Door (Not Two, ...read more
Michael Marcus is a multi-instrumentalist who has shown mettle on the manzello, the stritch, the saxello, as well as the alto, baritone and soprano saxophones and the clarinet. He has recently been gravitating towards the clarinet and has played solely on the Bb clarinet on Golden Atoms (Soul Note, 2008) and here on Lotus Symphony.
The high mark of this release is the way in which Marcus balances improvisation and composition. This is done through a shifting line-up which gives each tune a character of its own. Marcus' vision directs each path, showing that he is more than ...read more
Philadelphia performance artist Skip" Homer Jackson recently asked my opinion about a number of jazz artists who have been overlooked because they were great stylists who played in the shadows of great players. I immediately thought of Booker Ervin in relationship to John Coltrane; and Booker Little, who ironically was little (no pun intended) appreciated during the 1960's era of stellar jazz hornmen. In the back of my mind too, was the multi-instrumentalist/band leader and composer Michael Marcus.
The following interview should, in a colorful and informative fashion, fill in the blanks for those who may casually know of him. ...read more
Michael Marcus and Ted Daniel Duology Boxholder 2007 Michael Marcus The Magic Door Not Two 2007
Michael Marcus comes from the Rahsaan Roland Kirk school of multi-instrumentalism and whether on his own (Speaking Out, Drimala) or with his best-known partner (Sonny Simmons in the Cosmosamatics), variety of tonal color and timbre is the main advantage he holds over less interesting peers. On Duology, Marcus limits himself to clarinet, leaving the variety ...read more
Duology is an extremely interesting album that shows how much musical communication depends upon the players and not the instrumentation. Michael Marcus, who plays all manner of reed instruments, sticks to Bb clarinet here, while Ted Daniel plays four members of the trumpet family, including something called a Moroccan bugle. The lack of a rhythm section and chordal instrument actually expands the possibilities of interaction between Marcus and Daniel. Once the starkness of the musical setting is accepted, what has been created can be appreciated as quite remarkable. Saxophonist Frank Lowe introduced the two men to each ...read more
Duology pairs multi-instrumentalist Michael Marcus and trumpeter Ted Daniel in a series of unique, vibrant duets. Eschewing his usual arsenal of horns, Marcus limits himself to B-flat clarinet, while Daniel alternates between a few members of the trumpet family for subtle variety. With a selection of brief skeletal miniatures, Marcus and Daniel deliver a snapshot of jazz history, from its syncopated Dixieland roots to AACM-influenced abstraction.
Both seasoned veterans, Marcus and Daniel use these fundamental tools of the jazz canon to generate everything from lyrical ballads and swinging counterpoint to avant-garde textures. The resonant woody timbre of the ...read more
The Cosmosamatics Zetrons Not Two 2006 Michael Marcus Trio Soulifications Black Saint 2006 Against all odds and likely thanks to the good taste of European jazz fans (these live tracks are taken from performances in Krakow, Amsterdam and Vienna), veteran altoist Sonny Simmons and reedist Michael Marcus have managed to keep the Cosmosamatics together as a working band for the past five years, Zetrons being their seventh CD release. The leaders have never been more in sync and the quartet has never been funkier or tighter. ...read more
Widely traveled multi-reedist Michael Marcus speaks with the same exhuberance and enthusiasm he demonstrates blowing next to Bay Area master Sonny Simmons in the Cosmosamatics and fronting the powerhouse Michael Marcus Trio, which he leads into the Blue Note this month. After the Cosmosamatics tour, I took the train to Milan to mix the new Michael Marcus Trio CD with Tarus Mateen [bass] and Nasheet Waits [drums] for Black Saint/Soul Note," he said. It's called The Iron Horse , which represents the trains for musicians that are on tour in Europe. When we tour Europe, we've been playing a lot ...read more
Recorded in '93 but only recently released, this encapsulated treat has the trio of Michael Marcus on alto sax and bass clarinet, William Parker on bass, and Denis Charles on drums performing three live tunes at the Old Knitting Factory in New York City, as well as two studio tracks. The live tunes, Ithem," Under the Wire," and Secret Oceans," find Marcus blowing away any inhibitions as he and the trio careen and bounce off each other with imaginative, often powerful ideas.
The last two recorded tunes are also worth a listen, but the live material is clearly the better ...read more
A Bay Area native and veteran of Sonny Simmons and Jaki Byard, Michael Marcus recorded these trios in 1993 with bassist William Parker and the late great drummer Dennis Charles. The first three tracks were recorded live at the Old Knitting Factory and the remaining two in the studio.
The power listening trio opens with “Ithem, tk 1." After an Ornettey intro, Parker flies out the gate and never looks back. Soon Charles joins, riding the cymbal, while smacking the drums offbeat. Marcus finds volumes of stories to tell with an athletic tone and patience in the telling. Parker plays ...read more
Music can be remarkably deceptive. By careful placement of instruments, a small ensemble can sound much larger; notes can be implied where none are found. And while space is clearly a fundamental with Sonny Simmons, Michael Marcus and Jay Rosen’s experimental group, Cosmosamatics, what is most conspicuous is how two saxophones and percussion create a compelling sound. It is not only full enough without the benefit of either a bass to hold down the bottom end or a chordal instrument to provide some harmonic context, but varied enough to maintain interest throughout a nearly one-hour program.
The first two Cosmosamatics ...read more
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