Michael Marcus comes from the Rahsaan Roland Kirk school of multi-instrumentalism and whether on his own (Speaking Out, Drimala) or with his best-known partner (Sonny Simmons in the Cosmosamatics), variety of tonal color and timbre is the main advantage he holds over less interesting peers. On Duology, Marcus limits himself to clarinet, leaving the variety to trumpeter Ted Daniel (Dewey Redman, Archie Shepp, Billy Bang) who explores the subtleties of his flugelhorn, bugle and cornet. The conversations are relatively short and run the gamut from bluesy swing ("Sweet 'N' Lowe , a tribute to mutual friend Frank Lowe) to abstract sound explorations ("Rhythm in Green ). With half the selections composed by Marcus and Daniel and free improvisations accounting for the other half, the pair show that even when flirting with the avant-garde they're lyricists at heart and melody carries the day on this fresh collaboration.
While prior Cosmosamatics efforts on Not Two Records, an upstart Polish label, were recorded during band tours of Western and Central Europe, the sessions on The Magic Door took place in New York City, with Michael Marcus playing B-flat clarinet exclusively and leading a core trio completed by fellow Cosmosamatic Jay Rosen on drums and bassist Francois Grillot. Cellist Daniel Levin sits in on three cuts, including the title track, and his bow provides strained harmonies for the leader's sweetly rounded tone. It's also a pleasure to hear bassist Eric Revis (in tandem with drummer Newman Taylor Baker) outside of the Branford Marsalis Quartet on "Morning Daffodil , dragging the tune just a little more than Grillot might. By handling composition, arrangement and production duties, as well as concentrating on only one horn in his repertoire, on the The Magic Door Marcus ensures that the artist alone has decided what you hear.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Knock Knock; Sonic Corridors; Dark Sun; O.C.; Spiral Landscapes; Module; Pagan Spain; Wiggle Room; Human Factor; Lunar Shuffle; Cotton Candy; Sweet 'N' Lowe (for Frank Lowe); Rhythm In Green
Tracks: The Magic Door; Hey Pee Wee (For Pee Wee Russell); Blue Reality; Sonic Corridors; Abstractions in Lime Caverns; One More Minute; Morning Daffodil; Circular Worlds, Sitting Lights; Sunsets Falling in the Mirrors
Personnel: Michael Marcus: B-flat clarinet; Daniel Levin: cello; Rashaan Carter: bass; Francois Grillot: bass; Eric Revis: bass; Jay Rosen: drums; Newman Taylor Baker: drums
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