San Francisco-area drummer Marshall has been a sideman with numerous modern jazz bands, and worked prominently with Bobby McFerrin. It's about time he did a CD of his own, and this is it. Eight of the nine tracks are written by the leader, all instrumental, and quite substantive within a modern post-bop stylistic bag. Pianist Paul Nagel proves able and tasteful, saxophonist Kenny Brooks is a marvelous foil for Marshall's melodic ideas, and bassist Jeff Chambers rests solidly in a swinging pocket, lavishly embellishing the music with derring-do and deftness. Marshall pulls out an alto recorder on two overdubbed tracks: the child-like, sing-songy "Monsieur de Charles," a good swinger in juxtaposed beats of three and four, and in unison with the tenor of Brooks for the steady samba "Dreams That Dance." Marshall is also fond of bluesier rhythms, as evidenced on the cool modal funk of "Sue Jeanins," with repetitive, then extrapolated tenor lines, and the sharper focused beat of "The Bridges of Terrell County." A light, breezy Brazilian number, "Luna Nueva," has Brooks at once probing and playful. "Too Much Romance" is a good old straightforward, modern bopper, while Marshall's most intricate writing is inherent in the mainstem 7/4 to 3/4 bridge for piano solo of "Remember When," a very hip piece where the soprano of Brooks is replete with carefully constructed notes maintaining a certain restraint. The CD is bookended with the outstanding modal post-bop title cut, very much pre-Miles/John Coltrane-like with the whole band clearly on the same wavelength; trombonist Jeff Cressman added with the tenor in unison provides another highlight in "Wildwood," with Nagel's heavy staccato piano chords buoying the head, tail and solos. While Nagel is no doubt a fine accompanist, his stellar work on this recording suggests he could easily pull off a session of his own, and that will be a welcome occasion. Brooks is one to bear close listening; he sounds like a chip off of Harold Land (perhaps a student or devotee?), while Marshall remains the potent rhythm navigator he always has been. His musicality is a given, but hearing his original compositions being documented further cements his place in the history of jazz as a complete jazzman. This CD is solid from beginning to end; there's no filler or lack of energy (no ballads), and it's highly recommended to those who enjoy the Blue Note/Riverside (and beyond) strain of modern jazz expression.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos