Monsoon is the latest CD by Marc Rosen, this time with his group Sweet Thunder Jazztet. Rosen is certainly not a newcomer to the jazz genre or the bandstand. He started playing baritone sax in high school, over thirty years ago, and has been exploring the works of Gerry Mulligan ever since hearing him at a Chicago jazz club back then.
One reviewer recently said, "With [Mulligan] as his musical model, [Rosen] developed his own baritone sax sound and style. [Rosen] has musical talent and intelligence, and he has practically resurrected the best of Gerry Mulligan. ...[Rosen's] tone quality and facility on the baritone sax [are] unusually nice..." The latest facets of Rosen's musical journey are expressed in the new CD.
Rosen said, “In this group, we started out playing almost all tunes by Gerry Mulligan so that the guys could get comfortable with the style. The tunes on Monsoon are all originals that fit into that vibe. This CD takes some of Mulligan's melodic and harmonic ideas, and expands upon them, bringing the music into this century, while keeping the melodic approach and the great passion and feel of the music. It really is a unique blend of classic and contemporary jazz. We take the unusual harmonic structures and sometimes surprising forms that Mulligan used, and I try to interpret them in my own way, to bring excitement and beauty to the music and communicate that to the listeners.”
Monsoon includes one tune by well-know jazz arranger Dave Wolpe. All the other tunes are written by Rosen or other members of the band. On some tunes, the band is joined by flugelhorn and trumpet player Paul Beuning. "Paul is a great player," Rosen said, "who really knows how to listen. He and I have a musical affinity which really shines through." The other members of the Sweet Thunder Jazztet are Dave Davidson on keyboards, Scott Baekeland on bass, and Fred Johnson on drums. "They're all great players, who have really taken to this style. Dave and Scott wrote some exciting and beautiful tunes for the CD, and Fred is a great natural jazz drummer."
Artt Frank, a longtime Bop drummer with Chet Baker and many other luminaries including Charlie Parker said, “The CD reminds me of some of the great musical things that Chet (Baker) and Gerry (Mulligan) used to do during the early 50s at the Haig, a small jazz club in Hollywood. The musicianship is together and I feel that the players each expressed himself very well. I think this is a damn good CD!”
Rosen will continue with his exploration of the Mulligan style and and continue to expand and modernize it, without losing its unique and satisfying melodic power. “My goal,” he said, “is to bring this great style of music back to the attention of the world. I think the baritone sax is one of the most beautiful and expressive instruments there are. Most people who hear our music find that it really moves them. We want to bring that enjoyment to as many people as we can.”