If the record label's name and the vinyl album's gorgeous retro sleeve aren't enough of a clue, the first few bars of "The Wrath Of Karn" make it clear. Marshian Time Slip is a contemporary slice of hard bop, from four excellent practitioners of the art. From cool, slow-burning and moody ensemble pieces to fast-paced, explosive, unison playing, the Steve Fishwick/Alex Garnett Quartet is at the top of its game on this impressive and highly-enjoyable release.
London-based trumpeter Steve Fishwick and alto player Alex Garnett are out front, with American bassist Michael Karn and drummer Matt Fishwick (Steve's brother) as the rhythm section. Composer credits are split equally between Steve Fishwick and Garnett, who co-produced. The up-tempo blues-form "The Wrath Of Karn" showcases Matt Fishwick's attacking drumming and immediately establishes all four players' credentials as fiery soloists. "Marshian Time Slip" is dedicated to Warne Marsh and Philip K Dickbegging the question, do boppers dream of acoustic sheep? Once again, the players contribute strong solos, with long, flowing unison phrases from the lead instruments. "52nd Street Dream" is a nod to saxophonist Ronnie Scott, who founded his famous Soho jazz club after visiting 52nd Street. Garnett's slow-tempo tune is notable for its restrained group performance. "Kaftan" is Garnett's second composition: a medium-tempo number with some stylish, cool, soloing.
On vinyl, Garnett's "Rio De Ron" opens the second side. The tune is dedicated to the Demerara river "and the joy that can be distilled from it": its upbeat, flowing, melody readily evokes the river's inexorable movement, buoyed by Karn's bouncy bass lines. Karn opens "Primitis" with a brief bass solo. The quartet is a model of restraint once more, bass and brushed drums creating an atmosphere of noir-ish mystery which Steve Fishwick and Garnett maintain throughout their solos.
"The Creep," composer Steve Fishwick writes, is "About a person we've all met, or may even have been on occasion." The tune suggests that this particular creep can carry off an air of sophisticated hep-cattery when the occasion demands. "Lickeroo" ends the album on an upbeat note. All four players open up on this fast-paced number, purportedly a tribute to a "Noble bird that thrives upon a riff and a whiff of a Suite Indian Love song."
Marshian Time Slip is available as a 180gm vinyl album, from the Hard Bop website.
Side A: The Wrath Of Karn; Marshian Time Slip; 52nd Street Dream; Kaftan. Side B: Rio De Ron;
Primitis; The Creep; Lickeroo.
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