After two albums (At Last and Brotherhood) as bandleader of a quintet of precocious jazz talents, Marcus Strickland returns with Twi-Life, an independently released, ambitious double-disc set which finds Strickland working with two separate quartets and soundscapes. The first disc features his acoustic quartet playing seven originals and Wayne Shorter's classic "Oriental Folk Song." The quartet (brother E.J. Strickland, pianist Robert Glasper and bassist Vicente Archer) is a cohesive clan of young musicians that represent the best of their peers on their respective instruments. The result is some inspired interplay that bolsters Strickland's already unique writing voice, one that is both lyrical ("Brooklyn Street Fair") and rhythmic ("Thump and Cadence"). Other times, as on "Beast Within the Beauty," a simultaneously mean and pretty tune with Strickland employing his soprano and tenor sax -- Strickland exhibits his keen ear for both melody and bounce. The second set introduces his newer quartet, where Marcus and Strickland are joined by Lage Lund (guitar) and Brad Jones (electric bass). (It's interesting to note than many of today's younger musicians are beginning to take this same approach, separating acoustic bands and material with their fusion counterparts.) Strickland's second set has a decidedly more commercial appeal and evokes a sound that may turn off a few aficionados, but the musicianship can't be denied; nor can Strickland's inclination to explore be frowned upon when today's music is often stale. If the direction of jazz is being steered by young musicians like Strickland, there is reason for optimism.
released January 1, 2006
Marcus Strickland - soprano and tenor sax
Robert Glasper - piano (disc 1)
Vicente Archer - bass (disc 2)
E.J. Strickland - drums
Lage Lund - guitar
Brad Jones - electric bass