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Introduced as the Marvin Stamm Quartet at Birdland on September 11 and 13, 2003, this tight ensemble interprets straight-ahead jazz from several different contemporary sources, including dynamic originals by the band's trumpeter, pianist, and bassist. Stamm brings a unique and personal sound to the forum, allowing his tone to waver and fluctuate with a sensitive frame of reference. Frail, light, and airy, the trumpeter's tone evokes understatement and quiet passion. Stamm releases his emotions in a profound manner, ensuring that power never consumes his delicate demeanor. Even as he builds his interpretations to a higher climax, the trumpeter maintains a fluid appearance and downplays his role.
But this performance reflects a team approach. Ed Soph introduces "Samba du Nancy" with hands on drums in an informal affair that invokes myriad textures. Solemn and devotional, he prepares the quartet for an exotic escape toward festive celebrations. They deliver this one with a quiet fire and a cohesive sparkle.
Guitarist John Abercrombie joins the band for four selections. His pensive lines add a smooth, contemporary charm to the session, while inviting denser harmonies. With a vibrant guitar tone that contrasts sharply with Stamm's feathery touch and airy sound, Abercrombie gives the session a considerable lift. His interpretations contain lyrical passages that drive the ensemble on solid ground.
The high point comes with Rufus Reid's "The Meddler," a driving, hard bop blues that tears your heart out, opens your eyes, and sizzles with hip excitement. Abercrombie soars with gutsy conversational integrity, Bill Mays drives a swingin' affair, Stamm adds a guarded theme over a powerful rhythm section, Reid stretches out with an invigorating stand-up bass interlude, and the band proudly displays its love for the passion that underlies mainstream jazz.
Track Listing: Svensson; Samba du Nancy; In Her Arms; Waltz for Mia; Two as One; When She Smiles Upon Your Face; Gemma's Eyes; The Meddler.
Personnel: Marvin Stamm- trumpet, flugelhorn; Ed Soph- drums; Bill Mays- piano; Rufus Reid- bass; John Abercrombie- guitar.
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.