Mitch Marcus

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Some fresh Bay Area jazz from Mitch Marcus and company provides a sense of rebirth of the collective improvisation ideal. It isn't quite free jazz, but there are aspects of Albert Ayler or Sun Ra in there, in the way that Marcus and alto sax player Sylvain Carton drop casual cascades of notes here and there regardless of the backdrop. It isn't quite fusion, but one can hear a trace of John McLaughlin in guitarist Michael Abraham's work for the opening track. This is free-form jazz, with an outline of an idea put into the score and a general theme for the players to follow, à la Ornette Coleman. There's some strong virtuosity displayed, but primarily in the sensibilities of the players to the strength of the rhythm and course of the flow. They can diverge on separate paths to explore, but come back for a bumpy, bouncy hook at a moment's notice. This is jazz at its thick, heavy best. The album may take some thinking and attention to appreciate it properly, but it holds up to the inspection. This is something worthy of a larger label and distribution (perhaps the avant-garde end of Origin Records, OA2) and more listeners than it's likely to get currently.

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