Saxophonist Samir Zarif has experienced a wide cross section of the cultural landscape of the United States. Zarif grew up in Texas, spent his college years learning and performing in New Orleans, and then traveled north to New York for his studies at the Manhattan School of Music. While all of this isn't necessarily remarkable for a budding musician to take in, these experiences contrast sharply with the aural images that Zarif presents on Starting Point.
Starting Point is a brilliant, non-imitative pastiche of musical movements that are both at home and foreign to jazz. Ancient mystical music with Eastern roots ("Circle Of Truth") transitions smoothly to odd-metered, bass-grounded music of alarming focus and purpose. Avant-garde influences are also welcome at Zarif's table ("Precocious Nation" and "Fear & Deception"), and a brief segment of overdubbed saxophones finds a place within this world ("Interlude To Life") as well. While a darkly, electro-ambient showcase for Zarif's vocals ("Keep The Faith") and, to a greater extent, a pseudo-futuristic platform for his storytelling ("The Story Of "The Old Man's Box"") aren't completely complementary to the overall balance, vibe and vision presented elsewhere, it's all part of the artist's personal manner of expression, which traces its way through this ten-song program.
In all other places, Zarif's artistic integrity and sense of purpose shines bright. Clarity is key in Zarif's wailing, mournful saxophone delivery on the haunting, standout tracks that feature Maria Neckam's enchanting vocals. Neckam's angelic pipes stand alone on "Dancing In A Garden Of Dead Roses," but Zarif joins her on "This Life," adding greater emotion depth into the vocal delivery of the song. Both tracks also benefit from Zarif's saxophone moody lines, inserted in the gaps between words.
Zarif, like saxophonist David Binneywhose Mythology Records imprint released this impressive debutis clearly confident in his ability to chart his own course without outside influences corrupting his pure musical vision.
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.
I love jazz because I was born and raised here in America, and it is one of the most significant cultural contributions we have given to the world. It is an incredibly sophisticated artform that continues to challenge boundaries while delighting and engaging listeners of all different ages and backgrounds
I love jazz because I was born and raised here in America, and it is one of the most significant cultural contributions we have given to the world. It is an incredibly sophisticated artform that continues to challenge boundaries while delighting and engaging listeners of all different ages and backgrounds. I love how jazz can involve musicians who may have never met each other can coming together and making incredible music by referring to the Great American Songbook and musicians who have been playing together for years, who have a deep connection and who explore and create original music that is at the cutting edge of musical innovation in every sense. Performing jazz music requires a virtuosity and technique that only strict discipline can teach as well as a spontaneity and playfulness that reflects the simple folk roots of the music.
I was first exposed to jazz as a student in college. Only knowing I wanted to play guitar, I enrolled in an applied music program that focused on Jazz rhythm section playing. The subsequent journey that I have been on since the time that I enrolled in that class has helped me grow not only as a musician but more so as a person.