Jaki Byard / Michael Marcus

This Happening

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This is an interesting duo set by Michael Marcus and pianist Jaki Byard that does not quite live up to its potential. A fine technician, Marcus (heard mostly on saxello and stritch) has a lyrical, searching style, along with the ability to be both exploratory and relaxed simultaneously. With the exception of a John Coltrane medley of "Giant Steps" and "Naima" (which has his only appearance on bass clarinet) and the closing "Darn That Dream," Marcus contributed all of the selections. The problem with the recording is that Byard, who can play brilliantly in any jazz style, sticks mostly to being an accompanist. Most of his playing is quite laid-back, and he seems content to function as a supporting player; even his solos sound as if he is waiting for Marcus to return. So, although this CD will probably be quite important in the discography of Michael Marcus, it is just a footnote, a lost opportunity, in Jaki Byard's career.

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