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The Magic Door by Michael Marcus

This outing, featuring an alternating lineup was recorded in New York City by multi-reed ace Michael Marcus who performs solely on Bb clarinet. And other than a string of generally acclaimed solo outings for various record labels, the artist’s teaming with sax legend Sonny Simmons in the Cosmosamatics unit intimates a radiant entry within his broad discography. Moving forward, Marcus’ corpulent tone and resonating lines are consummated by his mood-evoking and lyrically-resplendent phraseology. His keenly articulated mode of action, shadowed by cellist Daniel Levin’s counterbalancing lines executed on three pieces, offer but a few of many highlights.

Marcus renders a whimsical sequence of choruses during his homage to the late clarinetist, titled "Hey Pee Wee (for Pee Wee Russell)." Yet the musicians also skirt the outside during key passages such as "Abstractions in Lime Caverns," where Francois Grillot’s gruff bowed-bass maneuvers nicely contrast Marcus’ lamentable voicings. Here and during other movements, the clarinetist works atop fragmented pulses while exploring a hodgepodge of divergent angles. Consequently, the musicians also engage in swing metrics and introspective frameworks. One of my favorite compositions is "Morning Daffodil," which is a theme-building exercise framed upon the leader and bassist Eric Revis’ intimate alignment, gently dappled by drummer Newman Taylor Barker’s soft brushes.

Marcus’ clarinet performances more than compensate for a lack of a chord-based instrument as he artfully contrasts his sound with the lower-end of the spectrum throughout. Nonetheless, the band sustains interest amid a high-entertainment factor that equates to a curiously interesting listen.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Michael Marcus
  • CD Title: The Magic Door
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Record Label: Nottwo
  • Musicians: Michael Marcus (B-flat clarinet), Daniel Levin (cello), Rashaan Carter (bass), Francois Grillot (bass), Eric Revis (bass), Jay Rosen (drums), Newman Taylor Baker (drums)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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