Among the many new voices with something unique to say, Texas-born saxophonist Samir Zarif's Starting Point is as fresh a debut as they come. A member of the internationally acclaimed group The Storywhose names include rising stars, pianist John Escreet and saxophonist Lars DietrichZarif also contributed to singer Maria Neckam's memorable Deeper (Sunnyside, 2010). In both cases, his horn has been impressive, but leading and composing his own release is a real opportunity for the saxophonist to shine.
Born out of life's experiencesgrowing up in a family of musicians, the loss of his mother to leukemia, and an emerging career in jazz that has carried him from New Orleans to New YorkStarting Point is a personal statement, articulated through acoustic and electronic instruments, spoken word and vocals, and improvisation. Zarif's arid tenor is at the heart of ten tracks that can portray a monastic serenity in "Circle of Truth" or a gritty abstract swagger in "Fear and Deception." The recording's fresco is painted with multicolored strokes of expressionism, spirituality and intrepid confidence.
A variety of talented musicians and David Binney's exquisite production give birth to Zarif's storytelling concepts. There's a tranquil mysticism in "Dancing In A Garden Of Dead Roses," with earnest lyrics sung by Zarif and Maria Neckam, or "The Story Of "The Old Man's Box," where Zarif recites words in a parable-like setting. The cerebral "This Life" contains a nice pop hook that personifies the "jazz alternative" categorization in the best terms. But make no mistake: Zarif's double-barreled sax acrobatics in "Precocious Nation," with alto saxophonist Lars Dietrich. are some of the most inventive exchanges heard anywhere. In contrast, the hypnotic "Keep The Faith" is its antithesis, a composition that would make Björk smile.
Incorporating a multicultural persona of idioms Starting Point's appeal is found in its ability to draw upon a variety of stimuli and most importantly Zarif's inner voice.
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.
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.