One of the many things sorely missed in the 2020's COVID situation is that cornerstone of jazzthe live-in-a-club performance. Live at Maureen's Cellar provides a vivid recollection of what pre-plague joy we had.. This fine recording presents that intimate club vibe, offering engaging extended solos, ensemble (and audience) interaction, and the emotional range that jazz delivers uniquely in person.
The four AcesMarvin Stamm, Mike Holober, Mike McGuirk and Dennis Mackreloffer seven selections: two fine Holober originals and a handful of well-worked horses that capture and excite. There's impeccable musicianship throughout and inter-artist communication that grabs. This is Intelligent and involving listening.
The rarely recorded "Out of the Night Came You" from Horace Silver is a performance gem. From Bar One the textures evolve from Holober's keys before Stamm launches melody and all offer swinging solos. "Invitation," introduced by McGuirk's bass, platforms a noir-like presentation in which excitement and surprises spring from every musical corner. "Dear Virginia" and "Morning Hope" are Holober originals. The former is a vividly-textured balladic love letter and the latter a faster tonal poem preaching an uncertain day ahead. Both selections develop and intensify into complex, communicative exchanges. That inter-group play highlights a straight-ahead take on "All the Things You Are" where all stretch out on a roller coaster ride that soars with a great McGuirk solo and which climaxes with ensemble back- and-forths. Mackrel's drum solo launches "Funkallero" and sparks fly. Glissandos spew from Stamm before it opens up to a straight-ahead hard bop burner. The group play on this track is brilliant.
Stamm, exclusively on flugelhorn and freed from big band constraints and confines of studio sessions, confirms his stature as a jazz player's player. His horn command and jazz chops are as game as ever and that soundbreathily elegant, reserved but ready to snake-strike with ribbons of ideas. Holober, both as pianist and composer, is thoughtful and child-like in improvisational curiosity ("Peace"). He's technically superb, and killer at feeding and responding to his three mates. McGuirk, a virile yet vocal bassist, is bravura and driving throughout, and Mackrel works his set with musically percussive support and in-pocket swing.
We may not know when we will be able to hear live in-person jazz again; however, Live @ Maureen's Jazz Cellar is a marvelous "night out on the town" alternative that is very well worth taking in.
Out of the Night Came You; Invitation; Dear Virginia; Morning Hope; All the Things You Are;
Recorded live @ Maureen’s Jazz Cellar
Nyack, New York
December 20, 2019
Recording Engineer: John Guth
Mixing: John Guth, Marvin Stamm, Mike Holober
Mastering: John Guth
Cover Art: Matt Ferranto
Produced by Marvin and Mike