It's amazing when the calendar turns to September just how crazy/busy life becomes, especially when it comes to concerts.
www.pirecordings.com. Go to the Uncertainty Music website (listed above) for directions.
www.firehouse12.com or call 203-785-0468. To find out more about the pianist, go to www.fabianalmazan.com.
"Triumph of the Heavy; Volume 1 & 2" (Strick Muzik, to be released 9/27/11) is a 2-CD set, the second of which features music culled from the evening at the New Haven performance space/recording studio. "Volume 1" adds the piano of David Bryant to the mix (he also appears on Strickland's 2009 CrissCross "ballads" CD, "Of Song", also highly recommended.) The pianist gives the music added depth and he gets a lot of solo space; he's a solid player with solos that display a bluesy feel ("A Temptress' Gait") or stromg forward motion ("Bolt Bus Jitter"). Marcus continues to develop as a composer and musician (he adds alto sax to his arsenal of tenor and soprano, with one track featuring overdubs of clarinet and bass clarinet). His soprano work is quite impressive, with a tone that feels clear and warm (finely displayed on "A World Found") while his tenor playing, especially in the higher range, has a softer but no less forceful quality. His solo on "Shapes", especially atop the forceful drumming of his brother, is multi-directional yet true to the "shapes" he lays out at the onset of the tune. His rollicking alto solo on "Set Free" builds off Bryant's romp and Williams' short yet finely honed melodic bass solo. The bassist, who can be a very effective second "voice" (as he was on "Idiosyncracies" and proves to be on "Volume 2") has a more supportive role in the Quartet setting yet he along with E.J. provide such excitement and color.
As I wrote above, I was in the audience on the evening that produced "Volume 2" and the live recording, despite the somewhat muddy drum sound (certainly not heard or felt in person), brings back happy memories. Listen to E.J. plays with the accents and beats on the uptempo cuts including the "hip-hop" feel underneath the tenor solo on "Mudbone", his whisper-soft cymbal work on "A Memory's Mourn" and the playful poly-rhythmic approach on Jaco Pastorious's "Portrait of Tracy". Marcus's soprano sax on the last track mentioned ranges from a clarion call to a stomping, near-revivalist feel to a sweetness as the piece comes to a close. Williams' strong walking bass lines drive the "free-swing" feel of "Surreal", anchoring the bottom while E.J. matches the energy of his brother's fiery soprano lines. The 3 musicians open "Gaudi" each moving in a slightly independent direction but then Williams moves into a long, rhythmically exciting, solo. When Marcus enters for his tenor solo, his brother drops into such a funky beat that it is (and certainly was that night) impossible not to move your feet. The next time someone tells you jazz is such serious music, play him or her"Gaudi."
"Triumph of the Heavy" really is a triumph for Marcus Strickland and his excellent band. This music is so alive, so much fun, serious when the tune calls for a different approach and well worth the investment. If you like music that can not only thrill you but has the power to move you emotionally, latch on to this fine 2 Volume set. For more information, go to www.marcusstrickland.com.