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Dan Marschak's debut, Likewise, is a friendly jazz outing, showcasing the Los Angeles-based pianist/composer's compositional talents, piano chops and leadership role as both player and producer. With all but two of its ten tunes written by Marschak, its unconventional approach, melding elements of progressive, fusion, funkeven a touch of classicalmakes for a varied and challenging first impression.
The introduction of the opening "Caffeine Dream" sounds eerily similar to the opening bars of Ogden Nash and Kurt Weill's standard, "Speak Low," but quickly develops a progressive texture, aided by Marschak on keyboards, and a strong showing from drummer Miles Senzaki. Co-written by Kalil Wilson, "I Love You" is the first of two vocal pieces, where both Wilson and singer Lindsay Noelle Jackson share the lyrics. Displaying a good measure of funk, with Marschak on Hammond organ, this is clearly the liveliest track of the set.
Offering a taste of contemporary sound, Marschak's "Body Heat" is one of the album's highlights, featuring Hitomi Oba on a burnished tenor solo, accompanied by Tom Altura's clever bass lines. Delving into the classical repertoire, Marschak introduces his "Variations On Brahms," performing the number with acoustic bassist Greg Swiller, continuing in the classical vein with a beautiful solo on the warmly-toned finale, "Hymn For A Quiet Man." On the disc's only other solo piano piece, Marschak glides across the keys, with a calm soft approach to the classic "You Don't Know What Love Is."
The music takes an unconventional twist on the fusion-tinged, modern "Elevated People," which highlights the instrumental voices of bass clarinetist Max Kaplan and alto saxophonist Justin Janer, continuing in the same vain with "Twelve." With its interesting and genre-varied repertoire of largely original music, Likewise turns out to be quite a challenging debut album from the young Marschak, a pianist whose talentsboth as a composer and playerare well-displayed on this first effort.
Track Listing: Caffeine Dream; I Love You; Body Heat; Variations On Brahms; Calamari; Gee Baby, Ain't I Good To You?; You Don't Know What Love Is; Elevated People; Twelve; Hymn For A Quiet Man.
Personnel: Dan Marschak: piano, keyboards, Hammond C3 organ; Kalil Wilson: vocals (2, 6); Lindsay Noelle Jackson: vocals (2, 6); Hitomi Oba: tenor saxophone (3, 5, 8, 9); Justin Janer: alto saxophone (8); Max Kaplan: bass clarinet (8); Tommy Folen: electric bass (2), guitar (6); Tom Altura: acoustic bass (3, 5, 8, 9), fretless electric bass (8); Greg Swiller: acoustic bass (1, 4); John Avila: fretless electric bass (1); Julian Hogan: drum (2, 6); Miles Senzaki: drums (1, 3, 5, 8, 9); Josh Duron: percussion (3, 5).