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Mitch Marcus Quintet: The Special

Dan McClenaghan By

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On The Special, San Francisco Bay area's Mitch Marcus Quintet—two saxophones with a high octane, guitar-driven rhythm section—go 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 mood—the searing guitar and booming bass—there'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 tunes—extended compositions, all in the ten minute plus range—morph 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 bassist—George 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).

Title: The Special | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Jazzcubed

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