There are two ways to look at San Francisco-based guitarist-singer-song-writer Tony Marcus. The first is in the light of which guitarist-singer-songwriter he most closely resembles, Antonio Carlos Jobim; he could arguably be called the American Jobim, in fact. The second way is as a musical sommelier, one who knows music and all of the art that exists around it. Marcus is like Jobim in that his composing skills are superb, and he possesses the ability to express using different musical languages. As a lyricist, Marcus tends to be too smart (rhyming "maelstrom" with "Hails from") which is part of his charm. His sharp intelligence is self-deprecating and amiable.
As a musical sommelier, Marcus goes from the early 1920s style of "Lost World" to Le Hot Club du Paris on "That Summer" to 1970s balladry on "April 18, 1906." He prefers older styles as vehicles for his piquant lyrics and seasoned and wonderful voice. And speaking of that voice, Marcus' vocal talent is every bit a natural wonder as Rod Stewart's voice. Marcus' voice is more unique than pretty, reedy and attractive in that imperfect way that makes for good narrators and singers. Think of a more refined Tom Waits crossed with Randy Newman... yes, that might be close.
The music on this recording is colored broadly by Nova Devonie's accordion, giving a hint of Eastern Europe. Against this faraway backdrop, Marcus knits in Caribbean, New Orleans, Chicago, and, of course, San Francisco into his music. Highlights are the light-hearted "Miss Pizazz" and sharp "The Odd Get Even." The centerpiece of the album is the Great San Francisco Earthquake ballad "April 18, 1906," where Marcus shows Gordon Lightfoot should have cast "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." This is music that requires attention for full appreciation and is amply rewarded for this attention.
Track Listing: Vanishing Point; That Summer; Miss Pizazz; City of Nets; Inevitability; Lost World; Devotional; The Odd Get Even; Waiting for Love; April 18, 1906; Your Eyes; City of Nets Reprise.
Personnel: Tony Marcus: vocals, acoustic and electric guitar,
violin (4); Rene Worst: bass (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11);
Markie Sanders: bass (9, 10); David Rokeach: drums; Nova Debonie:
accordion; Paul Anistasio: violin (8); Jeff Sanford: tenor saxophone;
Keith Sklower: oboe (4); The Instep String Quartet: Julian Smedley :
violin; Benito Cortez: violin; Katrina Wreede: viola; Marcie Brown:
cello (8); Particia Haan: harmony vocals (1); Michele Jordan: harmony
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.