There's nothing careful in Canadian violinist Hugh Marsh's artistry. My first reaction to Hugmars ran parallel to my thoughts on an initial encounter with a Frank Zappa album back in '67, an ear-opening experience that had me mumbling: "This is really weird."
Hugmars opens up with "Rocket #9," scratching to life on a cosmic static that gives way to a brief spoken-word interlude by Kokayi, "One day it will happen, could be happenin' now, a voice from another dimension..." that leads into an electro-groove flowing smooth behind James "Blood" Ulmer singing a mantra: "Rocket number nine taking off for the planet, to the planet Venus." Then hip-hopper Kokayi raps a gusher of words as a prelude to Hugh Marsh, whose violin is wired up to about ten thousand volts, spewing out an electron wash of glowing sound.
"The Crossing" bubbles in on a turbulent sea of Afro-percussion behind Marsh's sweet bowing; that gives way to Ursala Rucker's eloquent poetic indictment against the early American slave trade. "Om" features Gregoire Maret's harmonica singing sweetly around Marsh's luminescent washes; and "Let Me Have It All" gets into a groove and showcases James "Blood" Ulmer on vocals.
Hugh Marsh came to my attention on Barry Romberg's Random Access discsparts one through five, so far. Marsh's sound has an expansive and ineffable plugged-in mystic quality. Often, it's a sound a blind listen wouldn't identify as violinyou cock an ear and think synthesizer, with a soul. Hugmars has a distinct world music feeling, with a conglomeration of Old World percussion behind the distinctly 21st Century approach.
Forget about categories, and don't expect to hear a musical artist being careful on Hugmars. This is strange stuff that opens ears. Nobody out there's doing anything like it.
Track Listing: Rocket #9; The Crossing; Let Me Have It All; Violin Invocation #2; Mowgli: The Balloon Song; Om; Sugarcane's Gone; Violin Vocation #1;
Personnel: Hugh Marsh: violin, ring mod violin, Clavinet, vibes, Pizz baritone violin, train violin, violin
loop capture, buzz box loop, Ghost Harm violin, Korg triton, MC505 loop, MXR PT violin;
James "Blood" Ulmer: vocals, phone call; Gregoire Maret: harmonica; Kokayi: spoken word;
Andy Milne: piano; Ursala Rucker: poetry; Rich Brown, Roberto Occhipinti: bass; Mark
Kelso, Dafnis Prieto: drums; Pedro Martinez: vocal, bata; Tanya Tagaq: throat singing;
Maximinio Duquesne, Pancho Quinot, Lucimi,Marcos Diaz Skull, Lazaro Rizo: percussion;
The Radio and Loneliness Hornz: Kevin Turcotte: trumpet; Phil Dweyer: tenor saxophone; John Johnson: bass clarinet
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.