151

Marilyn Mazur: Celestial Circle

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Marilyn Mazur: Celestial Circle Celestial Circle might appear to be a conventional, piano trio-based vocal record on the surface, but it's an impression quickly dismissed with a closer look at its participants. Marilyn Mazur knows her way around a drum kit in no uncertain terms, but it's her more integrated approach, with an oft-times massive array of percussion—gongs, wood blocks, pots and other things that can be struck with hands, sticks and brushes—that has allowed the American-born/Denmark-raised and resident percussionist to evolve a more pan-cultural approach to rhythm, color and groove. Not that Mazur can't swing in a conventional fashion; she just chooses not to—or, rather, she swings in her own peculiar way.

Celestial Circle leans further away from orthodoxy with the return of two artists who've been conspicuously absent from the ECM label in recent years. Last heard on pianist Bobo Stenson's Cantando (2009), it doesn't take long to realize just how much Swedish bassist Anders Jormin's resonant tone and singing lines have been missed. Jormin's ability to lock with Mazur into a spare but dancing groove, during pianist John Taylor's solo on "Winterspell," juxtaposes with his soaring arco and motivic harmonics earlier in this dark-hued piece—one of a handful of Mazur compositions interspersed, on Celestial Circle, with solo, duo and trio improvisations.

Continuing work with another ex-ECMer (trumpeter Kenny Wheeler) and a member of drummer Peter Erskine's seminal ECM trio throughout the 1990s, Taylor makes his first label appearance since violinist Mark Feldman's What Exit (2006), and his ability to combine trenchant lyricism and soft but angular voicings remains inescapably commanding, but in the most understated of ways. There's little overt virtuosity here, though it's never in question. Taylor contributes one composition, the opening "Your Eyes," and his expressive touch and contrapuntal interplay with Jormin and singer Josefine Cronholm are quickly established, affirming a chemistry built, despite this being the quartet's first recording, since its inception in 2008.

Mazur records relatively infrequently for the label, this being but her third as a leader following the all-improv solo/duo recording, Elixir (2008), with label staple/saxophonist Jan Garbarek, with whom the percussionist has also toured and recorded for many years. As much as her writing gives Celestial Circle its context, it's the nine improvised miniatures—most under three minutes—that give the album its shape. Cronholm may wear the influence of Norma Winstone on her sleeve in the composed material, but in the improvs, she asserts her own voice, as rhythmical as it is melodic.

Mazur's clearly a democratic leader, but astute choices always bring her voice to the proceedings, whether it's the cymbals at the start of "Color Sprinkle," or the clay pot that gives "Temple Chorus" its pulse, as she joins Conholm in voice, as she also does on the more joyful, tuned percussion-driven "Among the Trees."

It may not follow piano trio conventions, but of Mazur's own recordings for ECM, including 1997's Future Songs, Celestial Circle stands as her most readily accessible, even as it explores roads less traveled, with a group already possessed of a distinctive and singular collective voice.


Track Listing: Your Eyes; Winterspell; Kildevaeld; Gentle Quest; Secret Crystals; Temple Chorus; Antilope Arabesque; Chosen Darkness; Among the Trees; Color Sprinkle; Tour Song; Drumrite; Oceanique; Transcending.

Personnel: John Taylor: piano; Josefine Cronholm: voice; Anders Jormin: double bass; Marilyn Mazur: drums, percussion, voice.

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Live at PafA CD/LP/Track Review Live at PafA
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Ocean of Storms CD/LP/Track Review Ocean of Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Strong Tea" CD/LP/Track Review Strong Tea
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 27, 2016
Read "Nearly Extinct" CD/LP/Track Review Nearly Extinct
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 17, 2016
Read "Crop Circles" CD/LP/Track Review Crop Circles
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 16, 2017
Read "Z Octet" CD/LP/Track Review Z Octet
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 19, 2016
Read "Of The Night" CD/LP/Track Review Of The Night
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 28, 2016
Read "Flam! Blam! Pan-Asian Microjam!" CD/LP/Track Review Flam! Blam! Pan-Asian Microjam!
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: November 23, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!