On The Special, San Francisco Bay area's Mitch Marcus Quintettwo saxophones with a high octane, guitar-driven rhythm sectiongo with a fiery gusto for a post apocalyptic jazz mood, sounding like a bunch of young musical toughs surviving the hard way in a not-too-distant dystopian world, hard-asses with instruments stalking a dark, Clockwork Orange alley.
For all the chip-on-the-shoulder moodthe searing guitar and booming bassthere's also an awful lot of finesse in this mix, the way Sylvain Carton's sizzling alto sax solo wanes into a danceable guitar trio groove on "Inditranego," with the two horns haunting things in the background, or the edgy yet refined guitar/bass/drum dynamic on "G.C." with it's piquant, tight single note attack evolving into a searing symphony that gives way to a beefy Dewey Redman-like sax rant. Though it may be misleading to single out interludes within a single song, the tunesextended compositions, all in the ten minute plus rangemorph from hypnotic trance-like interludes, James Brown and the Famous Flames rip-it-up grooves, to small nuanced percussion modes behind a fat-note bass solo interjected with subtle, sharp-edged guitar comping.
Forward momentum of the supremely confident type is a near constant, with "Dave's Castle" offering some balladic repose. And man, that bassistGeorge Ban-Weiss! If a good, solid bassist is a band's rock, then Ban-Weiss is a boulder, with a big, rich, booming sound that gives the group dynamic an implacably dark and muscular dynamic.
Five of the seven tunes here are from saxophonist/leader Mitch Marcus's pen, with one from saxophonist Sylvain Carton and another from drummer Ches Smith.
On The Special, The Mitch Marcus Quintet takes the typical two horn and a rhythm section jazz mode into unmistakably modern territory. Excellent!
Track Listing: Paisano; Last Mourning; Inditrianego; G.C.; Dave's Castle; Not Then, But Now; The Joey Rubber Special.
Personnel: Mitch Marcus: tenor saxophone; Sylvain Carton: alto and tenor saxophone; Ches Smith: drums; George Ban-Weiss: bass; Michael Abraham: guitar. Special guest: Erik Jekabson: flugelhorn(5).
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.