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At 26, saxophonist Mark Shim is living a dream life. Born in Jamaica, he moved to the US at age five. As a young man he was ‘discovered’ by baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett. He was soon a member of The David Murray Big Band, Betty Carter’s band, and the Mingus Big Band. His first recording, Mind Over Matter paired our hero with jazz punk guitarist Dave Fiuczynski. His toying with jazz tradition earned critical acclaim and a spot in the jazz supergroup New Directions. Their self-titled 1999 release led by the old man Greg Osby featured covers of classic Blue Note releases. Shim alongside pianist Jason Moran and vibraphonist Stefon Harris drew rave reviews from their subsequent tour.
Shim rides this wave of popularity on his second date as leader. Once again forsaking a strict tradition he boosts a lineup that includes Edward Simon playing the electric Rhodes piano on three tracks and vibraphonist Stefon Harris taking up the marimba on two. Not that these are exotic instruments, but that Shim uses them with great effectiveness. On “Don’t Wake The Violent Baby” Simon creates an ethereal electric atmosphere for the tender saxophone touch of Shim. Harris’ marimba trades bony blows with a most aggressive tenor on “Survival Tactics.” Shim adopts the stylings of both Joe Henderson and Joe Lovano, but mostly he is developing his own style. Like an NBA rookie, he has all the textbook moves and is quietly revealing some of his own.
Track List:Turbulent Flow; Recorda Me; Christel Gazing; Survival Tactics; Don’t Wake The Violent Baby; Dirty Bird; Scorpio; Jive Ones; Eminence.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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