Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In review---In exotic percussive lands

Marilyn Mazur
Celestial Circle
ECM Records

Reminiscent of her label mate, Susanne Abbuehl, percussionist-composer Marilyn Mazur’s Celestial Circle features moody jazz with sedate vocals.  I’ve enjoyed listening to Mazur’s unobtrusive compositions performed by the artist’s ECM band, (John Taylor-piano, Josefine Cronholm-vocals, and Anders Jormin-double bass), while I work.  The beautiful textures created by this quartet doesn’t qualify as background music (too intriguing), but while I listen to the pure tones of this particular recording, I’m able to get the best of both worlds—listening to music and editing my work.  I’d imagine that this music would go well with a cup of chamomile tea at bedtime too.

The songs fall on the melancholy side, alternately feel contemplative with warm tones and exotic percussive brushstrokes. The players seem to have an intuitive connection with each other, almost breathing in sync with the bass, piano, and percussion forming a seamless flow that travels throughout the recording.  Vocalist Josefine Cronholm holds her own here too, and as a jazz vocalist, she proves versatile, tranquil on one song, then reminding me of Brazilian jazz on Kildevaeld, tossing in scat vocals.  

 But when is all said and done, Mazur is the lead player here composing and co-composing songs that range from truly unusual (Secret Crystals), to exotic (Gentle Quest), to chant-scats (Temple Chorus), and the delightful and playful duet (Among the Trees). For those of you already familiar with the “ECM sound,” there are no real surprises here, but certainly you’ll find the music is worth stopping the traffic of your day and take a few contemplative moments to enjoy this otherworldly jazz.  And if Antilope Arabesque doesn’t take your breath away, nothing will.

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