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In The Center Of It All [Audio CD] Michael Marcus Trio

Although Michael Marcus is a superb horn player, he's not gotten his share of the spotlight. Perhaps it's his choice of axe. On this beautifully soulful recording, Marcus's horns of choice are the stritch, saxello, and sopranino--horns made prominent by Rahsaan Roland Kirk. The similarities to Kirk don't end there. Marcus has the ability to play multiple horns simultaneously--a la Kirk--and on this set, the Hammond B3 is piloted by Rahn Burton, a veteran of Kirk's groups. Rounding out the trio is Nasheet Waits, an emerging talent whose contributions here are relaxed and remarkably faithful to the groove. While much of this recording swings with a sleepy, laid-back funk, there are subtle touches--the unique horn sounds and Burton's sensitive yet slightly halting keyboard work--that keep the ear interested and the mind occupied. Monk's "Pannonica" comes off sultry and slow, while the title track, featuring Marcus blowing multiple horns, has a reverential, gospel quality, yet still manages to proudly strut its engaging quirks. An excellent album, full of great playing, humor, and invention--all faithful to the jubilantly chaotic spirit of Kirk. --S. Duda