Michael Marcus | The Magic Door | Not Two Records

Not Two, 2007 | MW 777-2 | CD

Michael Marcus – Bb clarinet | Daniel Levin – cello (#1,4,9) | Rashaan Carter – bass (#2) | Francois Grillot – bass (#1,3,4,5,6,8,9) | Eric Revis – bass (#7) | Jay Rosen – drums (#1,2,3,4,5,6,8,9) | Newman Taylor Baker – drums (#7)

Recorded in New York City, May – September 2006. Tunes No. 2 and 7 recorded by Joseph Carter at Velvet Swan Studio, NYC. Edited and mastered by Eric Enjem. Produced by Michael Marcus. Executive producer: Marek Winiarski for Not Two Records. Photos by Krzysztof Penarski. Cover art by: Andrzej Wojnowski. All compositions & arrangements by Michael Marcus (Marmisun Publ. ASCAP)

Tracklist: 1. The Magic Door [05:54] 2. Hey Pee Wee (for Pee Wee Russell) [04:22 3. Blue Reality [04:38] 4. Sonic Corridors [06:02] 5. Abstractions in Lime Caverns [08:41] 6. One More Minute [06:17] 7. Morning Daffodil [08:18] 8. Circular Worlds, Sitting Lights [04:32] 9. Sunset Falling in the Mirrors [07:01]

Michael Marcus

has been an active member of the New York jazz scene for over twenty five years. Professionnal debuts with blues bands in the 1970’s (Albert King, Bobby Blue Bland w/Mel Brown). In the 1980’s and 1990’s becomes a prominent figure on the “free jazz” scene with the likes of Sonny Simmons, Frank Lowe, Philip Wilson, Jemeel Moondoc, Denis Charles, Makanda Ken McIntyre…while always staying connected to the tradition!

Since releasing his debut recording as a leader, Under The Wire for Enja in 1991, he has continued to be part of the cutting edge in American improvised music, touring the festival and club circuits both in the US and Europe, as well as appearing on over thirty records (mostly as a leader) for Soul Note, Justin’ Time, Not Two, Boxholder, CIMP.

The sessions on The Magic Door

took place in New York City, with Michael Marcus playing B-flat clarinet exclusively and leading a core trio completed by fellow Cosmosamatic Jay Rosen on drums and bassist Francois Grillot. Cellist Daniel Levin sits in on three cuts, including the title track, and his bow provides strained harmonies for the leader’s sweetly rounded tone. It’s also a pleasure to hear bassist Eric Revis (in tandem with drummer Newman Taylor Baker) outside of the Branford Marsalis Quartet on “Morning Daffodil”, dragging the tune just a little more than Grillot might. By handling composition, arrangement and production duties, as well as concentrating on only one horn in his repertoire, on the The Magic Door Marcus ensures that the artist alone has decided what you hear. — Jeff Stockton, AllAboutJazz

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.–  Glenn Astarita

The first album I heard with Michael Marcus

was “Ithem” a sax trio with William Parker and Dennis Charles, and I was immediately charmed by this excellent musician. He has a very strong sense of melody and pitch when improvizing, a great sense of swing in his compositions, a clear respect for the traditional form which he recreates in a very open modern format. Whether he plays with Jaki Byard, the Cosmosamatics or in other bands, his core characteristics are always present as they are on this record. He sticks to his clarinet on all songs, with Jay Rosen on drums and François Grillot on bass on most tracks. Daniel Levin plays cello on three pieces and Rahsaan Carter and Eric Revis play bass on one track each, and Newton Taylor Baker drums on one track. Anyone interested in melodic free jazz with a great swing feeling, should look this one up.–  Stef’s blog



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0 thoughts on “Michael Marcus | The Magic Door | Not Two Records

  1. By the way, the tunes i’m on were recorded at my place, on West 56th St, i have protools and a magic sounding kitchen… i mixed it with some reverb, but the guy who mastered it added some more, which is why it’s a little wet!!! Still, quite a good record.

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