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Marilyn Mazur: Shamania

Don Phipps By

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Marilyn Mazur's album Shamania is fascinating. Both impressionistic and abstract, it emphasizes wordless vocals and sounds while incorporating elements of global jazz and world music. The ten artists who play with Mazur are all women and hail from the Scandinavian avant-garde jazz scene.

Mazur's compositions are like kaleidoscopic postcards. The set begins with the ethereal "New Secret," where vocals permeate over a soft, flowing rhythm as the music evolves into a bird-like dream. On the safari-sounding "Rytmeritual," the vocal bounces off the horns over a rolling rhythm. "CHAAS" begins with a soft trumpet solo and develops into a rambunctious ride, like jeepney travel on the streets of Manila. "Behind Clouds" has bouncy wood drums and "Heartshaped Moon" spins with tango-like beats. "Shabalasa" starts off with a marimba-like intro and settles into a peppy excursion featuring Lis Wessburg's trombone. The vocal banter on "Kalimbaprimus" has both a medieval and world feeling. The result is an album that feels like great birds taking graceful flight high above tropical forests or exotic urban landscapes, surveying scenes below on their travels.

Mazur uses her large ensemble to add color and texture to the melodies and harmonies that populate her compositions. Electronic keyboards, percussion instruments of a near-infinite variety, saxophones that explode or play sweetly, trumpets that howl or sound like flutes, and vocals are all utilized in nuanced and forceful ways. This juxtaposition of the ensemble's voices and instruments keeps things fresh, as though each piece is from some different world or time.

Maybe these numbers are just layers of Mazur's imagination. Perhaps they are representations of the natural and manmade world we live in. One thing is for sure: Mazur's engaging music will take the listener on a wonderful journey.

Track Listing: New Secret; Rytmeritual; CHAAS; Old Melody; Fragments; Crawl Out & Shine; Behind Clouds; Time Ritual; Shabalasa; Heartshaped Moon; Surrealistic Adventure; Momamajobas 1; Talk for 2; Momamajobas 2; Kalimbaprimis; Space Entry Dance.

Personnel: Lotte Anker: sax; Josefine Cronholm: vocal and percussion; Sissel Vera Pettersen: sax and vocal; Hildegunn Øiseth: trumpet & goat horn; Lis Wessberg: trombone; Makiko Hirabayashi: keyboards; Ellen Andrea Wang: bass; Anna Lund: drums; Lisbeth Diers: percussion; Tine Erica Aspaas: dance & choreography; Marilyn Mazur - composer/leader, percussion & kalimba.

Title: Shamania | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: RareNoiseRecords

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