169

Samir Zarif: Starting Point

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Samir Zarif: Starting Point Saxophonist Samir Zarif has experienced a wide cross section of the cultural landscape of the United States. Zarif grew up in Texas, spent his college years learning and performing in New Orleans, and then traveled north to New York for his studies at the Manhattan School of Music. While all of this isn't necessarily remarkable for a budding musician to take in, these experiences contrast sharply with the aural images that Zarif presents on Starting Point.

Starting Point is a brilliant, non-imitative pastiche of musical movements that are both at home and foreign to jazz. Ancient mystical music with Eastern roots ("Circle Of Truth") transitions smoothly to odd-metered, bass-grounded music of alarming focus and purpose. Avant-garde influences are also welcome at Zarif's table ("Precocious Nation" and "Fear & Deception"), and a brief segment of overdubbed saxophones finds a place within this world ("Interlude To Life") as well. While a darkly, electro-ambient showcase for Zarif's vocals ("Keep The Faith") and, to a greater extent, a pseudo-futuristic platform for his storytelling ("The Story Of "The Old Man's Box"") aren't completely complementary to the overall balance, vibe and vision presented elsewhere, it's all part of the artist's personal manner of expression, which traces its way through this ten-song program.

In all other places, Zarif's artistic integrity and sense of purpose shines bright. Clarity is key in Zarif's wailing, mournful saxophone delivery on the haunting, standout tracks that feature Maria Neckam's enchanting vocals. Neckam's angelic pipes stand alone on "Dancing In A Garden Of Dead Roses," but Zarif joins her on "This Life," adding greater emotion depth into the vocal delivery of the song. Both tracks also benefit from Zarif's saxophone moody lines, inserted in the gaps between words.

Zarif, like saxophonist David Binney—whose Mythology Records imprint released this impressive debut—is clearly confident in his ability to chart his own course without outside influences corrupting his pure musical vision.


Track Listing: Circle Of Truth; Dancing In A Garden Of Dead Roses; Letter To The Brothers; Precocious Nation; The Old Man's Box; The Story Of "The Old Man's Box"; Interlude To Life; Fear & Deception; This Life; Keep The Faith.

Personnel: Samir Zarif: soprano saxophone (3, 5, 7), tenor saxophone (1, 2, 4, 7-9), vocals (2, 6, 9, 10), electronics (6, 10); Zack Lober: electric bass (2, 5, 7), acoustic bass (1, 3, 4, 8, 9); Colin Stranahan: drums (1, 4, 7-9), percussion (1); Greg Ritchie: drums (2, 3, 5); Maria Neckam: vocals (2, 9); Lars Dietrich: alto saxophone (4, 8).

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Mythology Records


Shop

More Articles

Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Etchings in Amber" CD/LP/Track Review Etchings in Amber
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 1, 2016
Read "The Magical Forest" CD/LP/Track Review The Magical Forest
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 6, 2016
Read "Travels" CD/LP/Track Review Travels
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 27, 2016
Read "Songs From Afar" CD/LP/Track Review Songs From Afar
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 11, 2016
Read "Sedimental You" CD/LP/Track Review Sedimental You
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 4, 2016
Read "Rehab Reunion" CD/LP/Track Review Rehab Reunion
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 11, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!