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Michael Marcus: Zetrons and Soulifications

Jeff Stockton By

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The Cosmosamatics
Not Two
Michael Marcus Trio
Black Saint

Against all odds and likely thanks to the good taste of European jazz fans (these live tracks are taken from performances in Krakow, Amsterdam and Vienna), veteran altoist Sonny Simmons and reedist Michael Marcus have managed to keep the Cosmosamatics together as a working band for the past five years, Zetrons being their seventh CD release. The leaders have never been more in sync and the quartet has never been funkier or tighter. "12 Seasons of Love is a lush ballad and Simmons' tenderness manages to be surpassed by Marcus, whose tone on tenor seems to have deepened in recent years. On "Crossroads Out , the pair weaves in between each other, Marcus' clarinet and Simmons' English horn swirling and circling Masa Kamaguchi's bass line and Jay Rosen's drums. "Mingus Mangus is an orchestrated lament that contrasts sorrow and joy as Simmons slows to a blues and Marcus takes over with effusive swing.

Marcus misses his partner on Soulifications, so he overdubs and duets with himself on a pair of tracks and even blowing two horns at once in the style of Rahsaan Roland Kirk on "News From Sedna . Rounding out his trio are bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits, one of the finest young rhythm sections in the business. Mateen's work on electric is a nice change of pace, enabling the African High-Life rhythm of "Talk-Walk to serve as an earthy contrast to the tune's folk melody. On "Harmonious Beauteous the trio plays a tone poem for tenor, arco bass and malleted drums.

With the Cosmosamatics, however, the same ballad is sinuous and creeping with Marcus and Simmons each offering his own interpretation, exponentially multiplying the complexity of the melody. Too many of the melodies on this CD are ordinary and while average Marcus is still better than the majority of faceless tenor players, at the moment his best work is being done with Sonny Simmons and it is transcendent.

Tracks and Personnel


Tracks: Crossroads Out!; Road Dogg; Mingus Mangus; Serene; Shining Winds; Harmonious Beautious; Dance of the Zetrons; 12 Seasons of Love.

Personnel: Michael Marcus: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Sonny Simmons: alto saxophone, English horn; Masa Kamaguchi: bass; Jay Rosen: drums.


Tracks: Harmonious Beautious; The Iron Horse; News From Sedna; Road Dogg; Soulifications; Talk-Walk; Garden of the Clouds.

Personnel: Michael Marcus: tenor saxophone, saxello, clarinet; Tarus Mateen: acoustic and electric bass; Nasheet Waits: drums.


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