When Mark Shim stands to take a solo with The Mingus Big Band, his youthful, clean-cut appearance comes in direct contrast to the deep, robust tone coming from his tenor saxophone. Drawn to tenor saxophone "players with a darker sound," as he states in the liner notes, Shim has made impressions on those with whom he's shared the stage, including Hamiett Bluiett, David Murray, and Betty Carter. Enlisting the support of pianist Geri Allen, bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Eric Harland, the saxophonist provides a spirited session of modern mainstream material.
Shim's composition "Snake Eyes," in three, and somewhat relaxed with Harland using the brushes, allows for solos from Lundy, Allen and the leader. Allen's exciting right hand, Lundy's lyrical romp, and Shim's lush sound are representative of the entire session. Harland stretches out on "Crazy," trades fours on "The Chosen Ones," and manages a challenging syncopated rhythm on Mingus' "Remember Rockefeller at Attica." Guitarist David Fiuczynski guests on seven tracks, with lyrical electric guitar lines that contrast well; he's particularly interesting when making the guitar cry out on "The Dungeon." Drummer Ralph Peterson guests on three tracks; his composition "Dumplin' " features Peterson playing the trumpet as well, overdubbed and full of spirit. Mark Shim's debut recording is a harbinger of what's happening out there, and it certainly looks good. Recommended.