6

Mika Stoltzman: If You Believe

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Mika Stoltzman: If You Believe In jazz, the marimba tends to be dwarfed by its sustain-friendly metallic cousin, the vibraphone. Many fine vibes players, like Bobby Hutcherson and Stefon Harris to name just two, double on marimba, but that instrument always comes second for them—and for most jazz mallet players—and it almost never dominates a program; almost is the key word, as there are exceptions to that statement. A select few are willing to put the marimba first and Mika Stoltzman is one such individual.

The Japanese-born, New York-based Stoltzman isn't necessarily a jazz artist, as she's pitched her tent in various musical camps over the years, but she's one hell of a musician regardless of the stylistic tag(s) thrust upon her. Stoltzman made a name for herself in minimalist circles by appearing on Steve Reich: Triple Quartet (Nonesuch, 2001), and she turned some heads in the classical world by working with her husband—clarinet icon Richard Stoltzman—but none of that defines her. Mika Stoltzman is beyond category, to use Duke Ellington's signature compliment, and she proves it here.

Stoltzman is joined by a stellar cast, including album producer/drummer Steve Gadd, bassist Eddie Gomez and her clarinet-toting husband, on a diverse program of music that was written or arranged expressly for her. In tackling this music, she moves through different corners of the world, from Brazil ("BECO") to Ireland ("Irish Spirit"), and explores various moods, from the funereal ("Pavane") to the cheery ("Cantabile"). She also gets down and dirty ("Funky Little Fugue"), adds a dose of tropicalia to the mix ("The Last Mojitos"), and makes her mark in intriguing realms ("Marika Groove").

Stoltzman proves time and again that she's a brilliantly borderless artist, but she's hardly the only game in town on this album. Her husband comes close to eclipsing her, as he melts the heart on the "Ballad" section of "Irish Spirit" and struts along on "The Last Mojitos," Gomez and guitarist John Tropea each get a few opportunities to step into the spotlight, and the Gadds—Steve and Duke—both do a fine job behind the kit. The presence of the Harlem String Quartet on a few tracks is the icing on the cake here, adding yet another dimension to this oh-so-unique album from this one-of-a-kind musician.

Track Listing: Mikalypso; Funky Little Fugue; BECO; La Fiesta; Irish Spirit: Ballad/Celebration Dance; Sambata; Jubilation; The Last Mojitos; Marika Groove; Cantabile; Pavane; Crazy Marimba.

Personnel: Mika Stolzman: marimba; Steve Gadd: drums (1, 4, 5, 7-10, 12), congas (3), percussion (4, 8); Richard Stolzman: clarinet (2-5, 8-11); John Tropea: guitar (2, 3, 6, 8, 10); Eddie Gomez: bass (2-4, 6-10); Duke Gadd: drums (2, 3, 6, 8), percussion (8); Harlem String Quartet (1, 4, 7).

Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Self Produced


Shop

More Articles

Read Welcome to Swingsville! CD/LP/Track Review Welcome to Swingsville!
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 26, 2017
Read Points of View CD/LP/Track Review Points of View
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 26, 2017
Read Migration Blues CD/LP/Track Review Migration Blues
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 26, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 26, 2017
Read N.O. Escape CD/LP/Track Review N.O. Escape
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 26, 2017
Read Reflections CD/LP/Track Review Reflections
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 25, 2017
Read "Chamber Jazz" CD/LP/Track Review Chamber Jazz
by Dave Wayne
Published: November 19, 2016
Read "Lovers" CD/LP/Track Review Lovers
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 20, 2016
Read "57th & 9th" CD/LP/Track Review 57th & 9th
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 6, 2016
Read "Interesting" CD/LP/Track Review Interesting
by John Eyles
Published: June 28, 2016
Read "You'll Never Know" CD/LP/Track Review You'll Never Know
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 31, 2017
Read "Obnoxius" CD/LP/Track Review Obnoxius
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: November 20, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: DOT TIME RECORDS | BUT IT  

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!