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Marzio Scholten: Voids, Echoes and Whispers

John Kelman By

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For his third release, Marzio Scholten capitalizes on the unexpectedly impressive sophomore effort, World of Thought (OAP, 2010)—a sleeper hit from a then-up and coming guitarist who continues on an upward trajectory—by focusing on chemistry and consistency. Only drummer Bob Roos is gone, replaced by Mark Schilders, while World of Thought guest saxophonist Yaniv Nachum is now a full group member, performing on all but the brief but incendiary guitar/drums duet "Oxygen (Interlude)," where Scholten adds a touch of overdrive to his normally clean and warm hollow-body tone, lending it an edge that works perfectly with Schilders' thunderous tone and polyrhythmic approach.

If the Dutch-resident Scholten's writing continues to mine a vein not unlike American drummer Brian Blade and his vastly influential Fellowship Band, he's also clearly found his own lode amidst Voids, Echoes and Whispers' broader musical excavation. "A Million Ways of Thinking" begins with Scholten's gentle chordal pattern, but when the rest of the rhythm section enters, it's clear that the guitarist was creating a rhythmic sleight of hand, deceptively shifting the pulse by half a beat. When Nachum joins for the song's compelling theme, Scholten's growing strength becomes evident—not unlike Pat Metheny or John Scofield, capable of effortlessly delivering the melody and self-accompaniment, all the more impressive for avoiding pianist Randal Corsen's toes throughout.

Instead, Scholten and Corsen seem to be evolving a wonderfully unified and simpatico relationship. Corsen solos first solo on "A Million Ways of Thinking," and if the 30 year- old Antillean-born pianist is a lesser-known name on the international scene, a quick look at his website reveals a rich discography. The multiple Edison< Award winner's ability to harmonically twist, skew and extrapolate on a simple, four-chord foundation is as impressive as the groove-laden support from Schilders and bassist Stefan Lievestro, especially when the bridge opens, like a flower, only to dissolves into open territory for Scholten, whose solo builds with patience and attention to space, driven slowly forward by Lievestro's pedal tone and shifting harmonic interplay with Corsen.

Scholten is also expanding compositional detail while allowing his quintet to just let things happen. The dark-hued ballad, "Air," possesses a spare, long-toned melody at its folk-like core, though both Scholten and Corsen play liberally with harmony to create a soft sense of tension and foreboding at a challengingly slow tempo. Lievestro gets a rare feature and, like Scholten, builds a pointillistic solo whose structure only reveals itself when heard in the broader context of Corsen and the guitarist's interactive yet minimalist support.

If there's a single strength amongst Voids, Echoes and Whispers' many, it's Scholten's growing maturity as a writer and performer. Having just turned 30, this Deloitte Jazz Award nominee has managed, in just four short years since the release of his debut, Motherland (OAP, 2008), to evolve into an artist delivering on his promises in a big way, with the in-turns lyrical and fiery Voids, Echoes and Whispers another superb addition to his discography and another contender for this year's "best of" list.

Track Listing: The King is Dead (Long Live the King); Voids, Echoes and Whispers; A Million Ways of Thinking; Air; Oxygen (Interlude); Optimus Prime; The Murals of Seagram; Path to Nirvana; Revolution is Everywhere.

Personnel: Marzio Scholten: guitar; Yaniv Nachum: tenor saxophone; Randal Corsen: piano; Stefan Lievestro: double bass; Mark Schilders: drums.

Title: Voids, Echoes and Whispers | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Self Produced

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