Michael Marcus: ithem (2004)
Saxophonist Michael Marcus' trio with bassist William Parker and the late drummer Denis Charles went into the studio in February 1993 and played at the old Knitting Factory four months later, and the tapes from those two days of playing comprise ithem, a five-track CD capturing a solid and flexible trio at a time when such a record would have been much more difficult to get on record store shelves (credit Sweden's Ayler Recordings for, along with archival releases by Jimmy Lyons, John Stevens and, of course, Albert Ayler himself, putting out such discs). ithem falls chronologically after Marcus' first release as a leader ( Under the Wire, Enja), and finds him in a confidently post bop mode, playing melodically, occasionally furiously, calling upon the post Trane tenor of the alto (doubling here on bass clarinet) and pitting nice, angular lines against an ever-shifting rhythm section.
Charles'who died in 1998'is an underappreciated, if not underdocumented drummer, and his herky-jerky style here is a nice match for Parker's slow bowing and fast walking. The bassist, for his part, was hardly the noted bandleader he is today at the time of the recording, and it's interesting to hear him playing someone else's charts a decade ago. There's something sweetly reminiscent about the disc, although that something might be more a product of reading the liner notes than listening to the music. Either way, ithem captures a strong trio that, ten years later, can only be heard on record.
This review originally appeared in AllAboutJazz-New York .
Personnel: Michael Marcus - reeds; William Parker - bass; Denis Charles - drums.
Record Label: Ayler Records
Style: Modern Jazz