Evan Marks

Long Way Home

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If it seems upon first listen that Evan Marks' snappy, fluid electric lines are vaguely reminiscent of Steve Laury's, the connection makes perfect sense; Marks subbed in Fattburger's guitar chair for a few years after Laury left the group. While select ballads on the Cleveland native's stellar debut ease through that band's familiar laid-back ideals, Marks seems more comfortable darting in new and daring directions as both composer and jam-happy player. Label connections work wonders, with Jeff Lorber's synth rack and Art Porter's funky delicacies punching up groove after funk-filled electronic groove. For example, "Racer X," with its burning blues rock bravura, is one of the most unpredictable genre tracks ever. Marks has the vision of an edgy contemporary instrumentalist, but there is also a healthy dose of jazz seasoning in his mix. His improvisations extend to a certain point, but it's the free flowing trumpet of Mitch Manker which really helps the leader stretch his limits. Marks attempts to resolve the two directions of his abundant musical heart on the hypnotic, Lorber-tinged "Jazz Not Jazz." However you define his upscale grooving, Marks hits the bull's eye.

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