The sixteen minute live piece "Scare 'Em Stupid" could almost be worth the price of Jeff Marx's new recording alone. It begins with a complex tenor sax and piano dialogue that gives way to an evolving and simply killer sax solo mirrored by equally open piano and bass solos that change in tempo and mood. All of this is held together by some extremely tight drum work. The composition is a good reflection of the overall flow of his new recording, Treading Air, Breathing Fire.
The Chicago based saxophonist influences show hints of greats John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter. His voice is throaty with rapid bursts of notes and highly developed control. The eight selections are "straight-ahead modern post bop" if you're into labels, but the main consideration is the extremely tight performance of Jeff Marx's band. The group performs with a looseness that allows the music to be spontaneous and free in a variety of modes.
Two of the more notable names on the ticket are pianist John Esposito, who has worked with Pharaoh Sanders and Dave Douglas; and bassist Ira Coleman, who has performed with Herbie Hancock and the Tony Williams Quintet. Their performances, along with Marx and drummer Peter O'Brien's, are simply inspired. Esposito's talent pours out freely in the blissful "Treading Air" and the stirring "Song of The Trees" with elaborate and artistic solos. Ira Coleman is simply "the man" and delivers terrific bass lines that swell, dance, and ignite each piece. His solo on the odd metered "Forsaken" is a thing of beauty. All of this is kept in check by the sharp drumming of O'Brien.
Marx starts and finishes with the same vivid tenor sound that is not just about high style but more of feeling and earnest playing. With inflections, guttural tones, spiraling notes, and just simply playing his horn off, he's created quite a memorable recording. Highly recommended.