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In the Valley

Todd Marcus

Label: Stricker Street Records
Released: 2022
Views: 326

Tracks

Horus (intro) (0:37) Horus (8:36) The Hive (9:47) Cairo Street Ride (8:00) Final Days (8:25) In the Valley (10:01)

Personnel

Todd Marcus
clarinet, bass
Greg Tardy
saxophone
Brent Birckhead
saxophone, alto
Russell Kirk
saxophone
Alex Norris
trumpet
Alan Ferber
trombone

Album Description

Baltimore, MD The internationally celebrated composer and clarinetist, Todd Marcus has emerged with a new body of music entitled In the Valley. The new album is a sonic exploration of the beauty, history and nuances of Egyptian culture, particularly, the experience of Marcus’ most recent travels to Egypt. Marcus’ father is Egyptian and has been visiting the country since he was a child. As an adult, Marcus has chosen music as a medium to mine and excavate the historical physical and inspiring spiritual and existential beauty of the ancient country. Marcus’ 2015 album, Blues For Tahrir foundational compositional theme surrounded the tragedy of Arab Spring that took place in 2011. “What was really special about Blues For Tahrir is that it led me to want to perform in Egypt. I did in 2015, I took a quintet and we performed, and I took my wife and we did a little sight-seeing. It was later that year when I connected with Egyptian musicians. In 2018, I took a group and we performed. So, that time was very special because I reconnected with family members and all of those recent trips created a fresh round of emotions and thoughts, and observations that inspired a new round of compositions. That’s what composed this new record.” In the Valley tends to pronounce more of Marcus’ travels with his family in 2018 as he was able to visit incredible sights including the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt where tombs were created for pharaohs and other nobility beginning in the 16th century B.C. “My wife and I took a tour of the Nile. Along the Nile we stopped at ancient sites; one of those locations was the city of Luxor. There are very prominent ancient temples there and we entered the Valley of The Kings. It’s so grand and awe inspiring. When I thought about a title for the album I thought “Everything in Egypt centers around the Nile. Whether I was in the city or otherwise, my experiences and thoughts brought about the title In The Valley. Less political, This new collection of songs which include Horus and Cairo Street Ride offer a more intimate artistic and compositional expression of what Marcus understood and learned about his relationship to Egypt. “These compositions and their inspiration are deeply personal and show the continuing evolution of my work as a composer and bass clarinetist. On top of this, the wonderful musicians in my band do incredible work performing this challenging material. The result brings me joy and I hope it does the same for you!” writes Marcus in the thoughtful liner notes for the album. Marcus’ band is an incredible coalition of musician including Greg Tardy on tenor sax, Brent Birckhead on flute & alto sax, Russell Kirk playing alto sax, Alex Norris on trumpet, Alan Ferber’s performance on trombone, Xavier Davis on piano, Jeff Reed on bass and Eric Kennedy rounding out the band on drums. The album is aesthetically entrancing, infusing Middle Eastern musical flavors, ethereal and thoughtful changes and sonic storytelling that embodies themes of each song, creating a chapter-like experience and structure. For the album’s fourth track, Final Days, Marcus ponders his relationship with his family “I wrote this piece in the winter of 2016-2017 during my last visit to the home where I’d grown up in New Jersey and my father had passed away a few months earlier. I thought of one of the main themes as I was going to bed one night during this visit and thinking about how it would be my last time being there and the end of my family’s time there after so many years. I later added sections to try to capture the winter wind blowing over snow on the yard and shadows of trees falling on our home of 40 years.” The other four gorgeous tracks step away from Marcus’ American native roots and take listeners across the world, allowing them to see and feel the sights and sounds of his heritage. It all ties together, though, marking a period in the composer’s life that was rich and immersive in travel and exploratory music. In the Valley is an embodiment of self discovery along with the touching tale of a part of the world many have never known. After listening to this album, you will know more as the music washes over the senses, guiding the ears and the body on an epic journey, a story only Marcus can tell.


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