277

Mark Gross: Riddle of the Sphinx

By

Sign in to view read count
Alto/soprano saxophonist Mark Gross and his cohorts carry on in music man's fascination with trying to solve the riddles associated with Egypt's greatest monument the Sphinx. The first track, the mysterious sounding "Valley of the Dry Bones" establishes the overall setting for what's to follow over the next 50 or so minutes, viz., Middle Eastern musical themes built on Gross' probing sometimes querulous soprano. But on the next track, "Moses In Egypt", there's a discernable feeling of hope created, again with the soprano telling the story line, with Brian Blade's drums and Mulgrew Miller's piano urging him on. And so it goes throughout the album, each track building on the musical images created by the previous ones. Kenny Garrett's dreamy "Lullaby of Isfahan" compliments the Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn tribute to the golden age of "Isfahan". The latter is a platform for Gross also as he recalls Johnny Hodges' luxurious rendition of this tune, with just pianist Miller helping out. This is one of the highlights of the album.

But there are more as well. Cannonball Adderley's "Mirabi" creates images of oases with John La Barbara playing the ancient Oud to create the necessary illusions. Wayne Shorter's hard bop Black Nile, while out of place with the overall theme of the session, gives Gross an opportunity to pay homage to those bop altos who have preceded him. For the album's coda, "The Red Sea", the playing is serene and resigned that the riddles of the ancient watchdogs of civilization remain, with Miller's gently struck last three notes ending the session. Very effective. This album is one of the few that manages to hold true to its theme announced in the title without becoming cloying or monotonous. Recommended.


Track Listing: Valley of the Dry Bones; Moses in Egypt; Eastern Joy Dance; Lullaby of Isfahan; Riddle of the Sphinx; The Desert Sands of Cairo; Black Nile; Isfahan; Marabi; The Red Sea

Personnel: Mark Gross - Alto & Soprano Sax; Mulgrew Miller - Piano; Brian Blade - Drums; Darryl Hall - Bass; Joe Locke - Vibes/Marimba; Khalil Kwame Bell - Percussion; John La Barbara - Oud

Title: Riddle of the Sphinx | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: J Curve Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn CD/LP/Track Review Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Queen City Blues CD/LP/Track Review Queen City Blues
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Latin Lover CD/LP/Track Review Latin Lover
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Reclamation CD/LP/Track Review Reclamation
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 18, 2017
Read The Princess CD/LP/Track Review The Princess
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Provenance CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 17, 2017
Read "Hoping Against Hope" CD/LP/Track Review Hoping Against Hope
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 19, 2017
Read "Forgive and Forget" CD/LP/Track Review Forgive and Forget
by Edward Blanco
Published: January 9, 2017
Read "Door Girl" CD/LP/Track Review Door Girl
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: September 23, 2017
Read "Live At Jazz Room Cortez" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Jazz Room Cortez
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 14, 2017
Read "Seven Secrets" CD/LP/Track Review Seven Secrets
by John Kelman
Published: May 26, 2017
Read "Rags And Roots" CD/LP/Track Review Rags And Roots
by James Nadal
Published: April 25, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor