Marcus Strickland | Idiosyncrasies

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Jazz: Mainstream Jazz World: African Moods: Featuring Saxophone
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Idiosyncrasies

by Marcus Strickland

In addition to cutting edge jazz Idiosyncrasies offer instrumental adaptations of some of the world's most precious cross-genre gems. Marcus Strickland's trio can comfortably perform anywhere and for anyone.
Genre: Jazz: Mainstream Jazz
Release Date: 

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1. Cuspy's Delight Marcus Strickland Trio
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5:03 album only
2. Rebirth Marcus Strickland Trio
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7:04 album only
3. Scatterheart Marcus Strickland Trio
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6:42 album only
4. The Child Marcus Strickland Trio
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2:43 album only
5. Middleman Marcus Strickland Trio
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6:17 album only
6. She's Alive Marcus Strickland Trio
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4:20 album only
7. Portrait of Tracy Marcus Strickland Trio
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5:42 album only
8. Set Free Marcus Strickland Trio
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3:51 album only
9. You've Got it Bad Girl Marcus Strickland Trio
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3:10 album only
10. Ne Bi Fe Marcus Strickland Trio
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8:18 album only
11. Time to Send Someone Away Marcus Strickland Trio
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6:56 album only
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Marcus Strickland's third release on Strick Muzik Idiosyncrasies finds the world-renowned saxophonist in the setting of his exhilarating trio (with bassist Ben Williams and drummer E.J. Strickland). From the start of the record it is truly apparent that you will not be able to sit still with the poppin' groove of Strickland's opening original "Cuspy's Delight", written for the drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts. The catchy melody soaring above the rhythmic playground of bass and drums immediately dives into Strickland's sax solo, which will make you consider whether the horn is a percussion or woodwind instrument. Then just when an idea of the album's direction starts to formulate Strickland's second original "Rebirth", a song about the healing powers of love, tantalizes the listener's chakras with his sax whispering the chant-like melody through the interweaving bass harmony. "Idiosyncrasies" takes you on an acoustic journey that is rare to find these days.

The album's title refers to what Strickland has developed through his horn and music, a sound so strong and distinct that in addition to his own intriguing compositions he, on other half of the record, is able to put his own stamp on cross-genre gems from Bjork, Andre 3000, Jose Gonzalez, Stevie Wonder, Jaco Pastorius and Oumou Sangare - this all done without the commonly expected use of substitute harmony. The many textures of horn, bass and drums are fully utilized on this album to create hip-shakin' African grooves, Electronica inflections, funky odd-metered bass figures and high-octane swing - Idiosyncrasies is a true testament to Strickland's eclectic musical upbringing, as well as his refusal to fit in a box.


Reviews


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Shaun Brady (Downbeat Magazine)

the trio maintains a sound both sparse and rich, with a relaxed ease that allows
4 Stars ****

There have been countless saxophone trio recordings since Sonny Rollins essentially pioneered the form on Way Out West. But upon slipping Marcus Strickland's latest take into the deck, the listener can't help but leapfrog over half a century's worth of refinements back to the 1957 original.

The two sessions share not only instrumentation but a similar sense of purpose: the lack of a chordal instrument means that the saxophonist is more firmly a strange freedom in this seeming limitation. Like Newk before him, Strickland has assembled a set of tunes with strong, direct melodis that inspire boundless reveries.

And though he doesn't don spurs and a 10-gallon hat to explore the terrain of country music, Strickland wanders just as far afield to find his material. The songs by Stevie Wonder and Outkast may not be particularly surprising given Strickland's recent funk-leaning experiments, but he also culls pieces by Malian singer Oumou Sangare, Argentinean-Swedish singer-songwriter José González and a Björk song from her role in Lars von Trier's film Dancer In The Dark.

Strickland's versions are in a sense more pop-oriented than the originals - in the best sense, of making a direct emotional connection. On Björk's "Scatterheart," in particular, he strips away the dramatics and the Icelandic singer's penchant for labyrinthine melodic filigrees and uncovers the soulful desperation buried within.

Strikingly, the leader's own originals are just as memorable, and tailor-made for his tightly attuned trio. That communication is so empathic between Strickland and his drummer, identical twin E.J., is a hardly surprising, but bassist Ben Williams is consitently an equal partner without the benefit of genetics. Throughout the album, the trio maintains a sound both sparse and rich, with a relaxed ease that allows for experimentation but without airiness ever feeling empty.

The threesome's effortless teamwork is embodied on "Rebirth," the leader's plangent ballad. Marcus' tenor is both keening and steely, E.J.'s brushwork a hushed whisper, while Williams provides am insistent but unintrusive throb. The combined effect is one of tenderness charged with an undercurrent of urgent passion, the blood pulsing in one's temple at a moment of quiet intimacy.

Ben Ratliff (NY Times)

This record, honest and stubborn, stands its ground. (NY Times)
On "Idiosyncrasies," the jazz saxophonist Marcus Strickland is in no hurry, and so much the better. Now 30, he's been moving ahead for 10 years in New York as an absorbent and confident player, rooting around in different styles, sometimes obscuring what his best one might be.
Here, form helps drive style: it's just saxophone, bass and drums. So Mr. Strickland, on tenor and soprano saxophones, with Ben Williams on bass and his brother E.J. Strickland on drums, has to be bold with his melodies and sparing with his improvising. He must be grounded because a chordal instrument won't do the grounding for him. (He's not on the high wire all the way through: he multitracks with clarinets on "The Child.") He uses five of his own terse songs, as well as others by several kinds of popular musicians: Bjork, Andre 3000, Stevie Wonder, Jaco Pastorius, Oumou Sangare and Jose Gonzalez. But he's not giving himself up to the character of any of these songs. This record, honest and stubborn, stands its ground.

For some reason 2009 has been a big year for saxophone-trio records: this one, along with J. D. Allen's "Shine!" and Fly's "Sky & Country," feel like enough for a new wave. Since Sonny Rollins more or less defined the saxophone-trio format in 1957, it has broadened in all the ways that jazz in general has broadened: rhythmically, structurally and in the oratory and rhetoric of soloing. But the basic attraction remains the same: physical challenge and harmonic austerity. And all three of these albums sound unusually self-possessed, as if they're vying for place beside the small number of similar landmarks in the 50-year interim, which include "Dark Keys" by Branford Marsalis, "The Window" by Steve Lacy, "Triplicate" by Dave Holland, "The Hill" by David Murray and "State of the Tenor" by Joe Henderson.

Mr. Strickland can be a conventional writer, sounding at times in the past like an averaging-out of the advanced younger New York bandleaders. But these songs are different, and this album, with Mr. Strickland distributing his intensity carefully over a subtle, flexible rhythm section, is of a whole other order. Here and there it carries light echoes - of Mr. Marsalis, of Henderson or John Coltrane - but that's not a problem. The melodies are unaffected, almost stoic; there's a kind of nonidiomatic breeze blowing through them. You don't necessarily hear the slow-and-subtle ballad "Rebirth" or Mr. Strickland's even slightly slower-and-subtler version of OutKast's "She's Alive" and think, that sounds like a jazz song. (Even "Middle Man," with the hardest swing of the record, doesn't prompt that feeling.) That's good. It's a record you can give to friends who aren't keeping score with jazz. That's good too.

Shaun Brady (Downbeat Magazine)

Like Newk before him, Strickland has assembled a set of tunes with strong, direc
Like Newk before him, Strickland has assembled a set of tunes with strong, direct melodies that inspire boundless reveries... Strikingly, the leader's own originals are just as memorable, and tailor-made for his tightly attuned trio... Throughout the album, the trio maintains a sound both sparse and rich, with a relaxed ease that allows for experimentation but without the airiness ever feeling empty.

Ben Ratliff (NY Times)

This record, honest and stubborn, stands its ground.
This record, honest and stubborn, stands its ground.

David Adler (Timeout Magazine NY)

"...a streamlined acoustic trio date..."
"Marcus's Idiosyncrasies, with E.J. on drums and Ben Williams on bass, is a streamlined acoustic trio date, steeped in jazz heritage even as it foregrounds inventive takes on tunes by OutKast, Oumou Sangare, Jaco Pastorius and others."

Nate Chinen (NY Times)

"...a muscular but nimble style..."
"what was best about his set was the sturdy rapport of the trio, especially on aggressively swinging originals like "Set Free" and "Cuspy's Delight." Playing tenor on those themes, Marcus advanced a muscular but nimble style, responding as much to his partners as they did to him."

J. Hunter (All About Jazz)

"Marcus expertly stretches the outside of the envelope..."
"Marcus expertly stretches the outside of the envelope on every solo, and his sense of narrative never falls flat."

Jim Macnie (Village Voice)

"The tenor player's rough 'n' tumble trio record is gutsy..."
"The tenor player's rough 'n' tumble trio record is gutsy..."