The album invites the listener to actively embrace the depths of the performances and revel in the ensuing solitude.

SMT 006

Scott Marshall (Tenor and Soprano Saxophone), Kevin Turcotte (Trumpet, Flugelhorn), Mike Downes (Acoustic Bass), Terry Clarke (Drums)

Recorded March 10, 2023

Scott Marshall is a prolific jazz artist, composer, saxophonist, band leader, producer, and educator. This is his sixth recording and features his original compositions.

The Toronto-based musicians were specifically brought together for this recording because Marshall had envisioned the interpretations and improvisations these particular musicians would bring to the project. Turcotte, an award-winning trumpeter, had been pursued by Marshall to play with for years. Initially, it was not clear whether the album should exclude piano or drums. Foregoing a piano from the group came from Marshall’s feelings during the pandemic: we were all still living but lost our commonality without socializing. That led him to the concept of a chordless group featuring individual musical lines without the common tones of a piano or a guitar to tie the group together. With no chordal instrument, it was important to have a strong bass player, so Downes was brought in. Likewise, the legendary drummer, Terry Clarke was selected once the chordless decision was made. Since this recording, the band has continued to work together as a group.

I was curious about the definition of solitude and how it connects to the album. “Aloneness” is the common understanding of solitude, but it can also be about learning to listen to what is around you. This description fits the band well, as they listen and are attuned to each other. Additionally, they are all masters of their respective instruments. Much thought was put into the song sequence to accomplish an overall flow to the album.

“The Monk Trane” is a classic-sounding song with a melody and structure that hearkens to an earlier time. The bassist drives the song, but the horns are the stars, playing solos one after the other, and then coming together in a harmonious close. It is the most straightforward tune on the album, with the band navigating its changes expertly.

The song “Conversations” is a modal tune with the bass demonstrating the wisdom of including Downes. Marshal and Turcotte are concise with their note choices as they play over the bass and drums.

The band’s strong connection and, most importantly, their emotional playing set this album apart. The album invites the listener to actively embrace the depths of the performances and revel in the ensuing solitude. It is a not-to-be-missed musical experience.