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There is an almost Zen-like quality to Marbin, saxophonist Danny Markovitch and guitarist Dani Rabin's debut as a duo. However, the quiet nature and perfectly still life of the music belies the poignant emotional underbelly that simmers constantly throughout the set. That this emotion is deeply personal is evident from the meditativealmost ponderousnature of much of the music, but the conundrum is further heightened by the fact that what connects Marbin to their music is also a seemingly universal longing for a oneness with all things past, present and future.
Dani Rabin's aching guitar linesalmost as tortured and longing as those voiced by Jimi Hendrixspeak volumes greater than any vocalist could about the group's existential angst. This is eminently clear from the heavy bluesy sermon on "Abadaba," a track that also serves to set the mood for the rest of the record. By the time the only track with vocals, "Mei," comes along, it is evident that this is a record about the deep connectionand loss of that vital connectionwith the greater universe of music and life. To that extent the titles of the songs are a little inept, albeit in keeping with the Zen-nature of the record.
Markovitch is an extremely gifted saxophonist who plays with enormous technical facility, often using deftly executed fingerings to communicate ideas and emotions that are complex. His solos start with some degree of linearity and then twist and turn into contortions that mirror the depth and complexity of the emotions they seek to communicate. His solo on "Mei" is a wonderful example of this rare musical ability. On other tracks, including "Crystal Bells" and "Biwako," there is some assistance from unattributed sampled instrumentation.
Rabin, who plays a wonderful koto-like solo on "Crystal Bells," also plays with the same contortions, which are suitably offset by the saxophonist's calming hand.
The duo's synergy exists throughout the record, and this remarkable aspect of unity makes the duo truly opposite sides of one seemingly tortured personality in quest of peace. The truthand there is indeed an obvious one emerging from this recordingis that once this unity and peace have been attained, the path ahead is never easy. Do musicians explore the mysterious soundscapes that were not traversed during previous journeys? How about complex harmonies and time signatures? When to give in to the temptation to make an exciting straight-ahead record and still explore the existentialist emotions that pick up from where Marbin leaves off? And how will these sound when committed to disc? Hopefully, this will be answered by a follow-up to this exciting debut record from these two obviously talented and thoughtful musicians.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.