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Mark Prince: Fraction of Infinity

Edward Blanco By

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Since early 1995, Mark Prince has been pounding the drums on scores of tour dates and hundreds of recording sessions as a sideman, honing his skills and widening his musical horizons. Fraction of Infinity is his long awaited debut as a leader, and what a first offering it is. A versatile drummer, adept at playing styles ranging from hip-hop and R&B to contemporary and straight-ahead jazz, Prince contributes ten new and creative originals, covering jazz from the straight-ahead to the inclusion of funk, soul and fusion.

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Prince is one of the frontline premier drummers in jazz today, and one of the most in-demand musicians in the D.C. area. His hard-driving rhythmic style is perfect for playing the kind of modern jazz that pronounces heavy percussive beats and emphasizes special sensitivity on the cymbals.

Starting off with the gorgeous melody of "Rite of Passage," Prince's searing chops are well accompanied by David White's foray on the flute, and additional performances from pianist Federico Gonzalez Pena and flugelhornist Deandre Shaifer. The music stays straight-ahead on "Abena's Last Stand," where David Merlin-Jones is captivating on the soprano and guitarist Alvin S. White peels off excellent riffs, all in front of Prince's supportive drumming.

Turning a bit soulful, "August (For Karen)" plays to a slow grind, showcasing Gonzalez Pena on the keyboards and providing the only vocals of the album, featuring Geno "Junebugg" Young. Changing gears once again, Prince presents the funky, "The Grind" behind steady beats and White's rock-infused chords. Offering a taste of fusion, Prince and his group perform flawlessly on one of the outstanding scores of the album, "Friendly Fire." There's also more blistering music on the Latin-tinged "Symph. No. 5/Dance of The Enchanted."

Prince does a superb job sampling just a portion of what he believes is his meager portion of the "Big Song" given to him by The Almighty. Fraction of Infinity is one heavenly session of music—compelling, exciting and a swinging addition to the pantheon of jazz.

Track Listing: Rite of Passage; Abena's Last Stand; August (For Karen); The Grind; Gnosis; Friendly Fire; The Healing; Quiet Thoroughfare (For Dad); Symph. No. 5/Dance of The Enchanted; August (For Karen)(alternate instrumental take); Gratitude (For Ma).

Personnel: Mark Prince: drums; Michael Bowie: acoustic and electric basses; Federico Gonzalez Pena: piano and keyboards; David J. White: tenor saxophone (5, 10), flute (1, 7-9); Deandre Shaifer: trumpet (5), flugelhorn (1, 7); Alvin S. White: guitar (2, 4, 7); David Merlin-Jones: soprano saxophone (2); Greg Boyer: trombone (9); Geno "Junebugg" Young: vocal(3).

Title: Fraction of Infinity | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Contour

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