Marc Seales

A Time, a Place, a Journey

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Breaking from his usual reliance on the acoustic piano, Seattle jazz veteran Marc Seales here takes on the more electric end of affairs for his debut album as a leader, recorded live at a local jazz club. The album opens up with "Waiting," a catchy number that's taken softly on a grand piano with accentuation by longtime Seales compatriot Phil Sparks on bass, and some tapping on the drums from Steve Korn (on whose concurrently released album Seales plays the piano). "Enigma" picks up a bit of a Mahavishnu Orchestra aesthetic, largely through Seales' switch to synthesizer and the introduction of Texan guitarist Fred Hamilton. "MK and MK" makes use of some nice parallel lines on the synths and Mark Taylor's saxophone, and "Long March" makes use of a simple marching beat on the snare courtesy of Korn to set up a somewhat repetitive basis to lay out under some impressive solos on the part of all the players. "Deep River," the only work here that wasn't penned by Seales, is a gospel standard played out quietly on the piano, with Seales imparting a strong sense of sentimentality into the proceedings, and aided only on bass and brushed drums. "The Righteous Path" uses a nice looping structure to showcase Sparks' bass, and perhaps more importantly gives Seales room to stretch out on his piano solo, running his arpeggios to their fullest. To end the album, the semi-title track brings out a freer flavor, with solos verging on the free jazz aesthetic by all parties, with added atmosphere provided by percussionist Lary Barilleau, and the highlights being Seales' extended workout on the synthesizer and Taylor's sax-work. The overall treat here comes in three parts: the band as a whole plays quite well, working off one another as only veterans of the same scene can. Seales' playing is exceptional, as he can take longer solos than usual but keep them tied into the song structures surprisingly well. Arguably just as important though, to the album as a whole, is the quality of compositions here, as Seales has done a fine job of crafting each work to perfection, leaving just the right amount of room for solos and making use of every tool at his disposal to create the perfect atmosphere and mood for the various works. As another highlight of the oft-overlooked Seattle jazz scene, this album showcases an excellent pianist and a fine band.

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