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Caution: The music on Countdown 2 Meltdown is not for wimps or the squeamish. With his third quintet release, saxophonist Mitch Marcus and his exciting quintet continue to dish out bold and serious-minded progressive jazz amid a mark of distinction compared to many others of this ilk. After consummating a highly-praised ten-year residency in San Francisco, Marcus returned to his native New York City in 2009. Here, the quintet pulls out the proverbial stops, blasting into the cosmos via blazing improvisational etudes with a precision-oriented, group-centric focus.
With numerous dips, spikes, twists and turns, the band generates a cavalcade of super tight unison choruses, simmering sax parts and fluid evolvements. Couple these attributes with Mike Abraham's sizzling, psycho jazz-rock guitar lines and a rhythm section that cruises, pummels and swings, it all equates to an exhilarating listen.
The band jumps right out with a big sound, underscored by Marcus and Sylvain Carton's popping and sizzling dual sax attack, to complement knotty diversions, fiery swing breakouts and climactic opuses. On "A's Lament," drummer Tomas Fujiwara lays down a rolling toms pattern to set the pace for the soloists deterministic and slightly ominous intentions. They communicate a powerful demeanor, spiked with intricate sax parts and use depth and space as a vantage point. And in various regions of sound and scope, the quintet's torrid interplay is offset by odd-metered cadences, engaging in perpetual motion from start to finish.
"Tron McCain," is a striking study in precisely executed old-school bop, rendered with a maddening groove as the band seamlessly fuses the old with the new as Abraham goes on a tear with his rippling chord progressions and stinging wah-wah lines.
Marcus and associates rise to the occasion yet again. Countdown 2 Meltdown will most assuredly stimulate the neural network in concert with a thrills-per-minute musical panorama.
Track Listing: Coffee and Cones; Ron and the Machete; Countdown to Meltdown; A's Lament; Jimmy's Delight; SS Clagett; Tron McCain; Wonton; HH; The Albatross.
Personnel: Mitch Marcus: tenor saxophone; Sylvain Carton: alto saxophone; Mike Abraham: guitar; George Ban-Weiss: bass; Tomas Fujiwara: drums, gongs.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.