By Sean J. O’Connell | Published January 2020
A forward-thinking forceful sound is on display here from bass clarinetist Todd Marcus, who also plays the standard B-flat clarinet on Trio+.
Marcus’ four-part work, Something Suite, is the focal point, as his trio dispenses jagged solos in turn. But the bandleader cites Sonny Rollins’ strolling trios as an inspiration for this sparse instrumentation, and that playful openness is hard at work. At times, though, the album resembles the mid-’50s work of Chico Hamilton and Buddy Collette: The band is stately and unhurried, exploring the sound in a nearly monastic setting. There is motion and soul, but it’s embedded around ample room to breathe. “How Deep Is The Ocean” opens with Marcus vibrating next to bowed bass, long tones creating a slow, warm friction. Standard “My Foolish Heart” is an even gentler vehicle for the reedist, his band all space and patience. That open space quickly is filled by “Neophilia,” a funky foray that enters bouncing off a riff supplied by the bass. Marcus wails over the energetic support, soaking up the groove. A frenetic “Invitation” takes the band further out, trumpeter Sean Jones joining in. Following Marcus’ free-form solo, Jones steps in with a blast, briefly reaching the atmosphere before easing back to Earth.
Trio+: Something Suite, Movements 1–4; Cantata; Amy Pookie; My Foolish Heart; Neophilia; How Deep Is The Ocean (Intro); How Deep Is The Ocean; Invitation; Plummeting. (63:19)
Personnel: Todd Marcus, bass clarinet, clarinet; Ameen Saleem, Jeff Reed (5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12), bass; Eric Kennedy (5, 10), Ralph Peterson, drums; Sean Jones, trumpet.