The tenor saxophonist and clarinettist, Dan St. Marseille’s extraordinary, accomplished performances emphasise just how potent, vital and alive the Jazz vernacular is. His first-person accounts of a clutch of standards, together with a composition that he has snuck in among them, on Invitation have a certain lyrical verve and, performed by a quintet of stellar musicians with a full palette of both soft and vivid colour, ornament with savour the expressive sophistication of a style once glorified by Coleman Hawkins. Separately and together these musicians never let soaring melodies get in the way of articulate enunciation and rhapsodic improvisation.
St. Marseille is a musician of exceeding modesty. In each of these pieces there is a comfort zone with sharing his privacy, both in the pleasure he takes in his own facility and skill, and in how he uses it to express his ‘faith’. They are full of musical cues that the listener is intended to hear, from the glorious places in the Jazz tradition. There are bold strokes, ominous moods, martial attitudes, gentle epiphanies and hopeful, joyful resolutions. All the while he adds immeasurably, through his musical experience, stylistically alternate character to such masterpieces as ‘Body and Soul’, ‘All the Things You Are’ and ‘Anthropology’. His sense of melody contagious and listeners will hear this throughout this album. The lyricism is profound, charming and quite memorable. Each song becomes, because of this, a thoughtful and beautiful version of the work to come out in recent years.
Musicians playing the kind of repertoire that Dan St. Marseille does will be envious of the fact that his rich timbre and translucent playing helps enliven the eloquent works on this disc. It might also be the reason why such famous names as trumpeter Claudio Roditi, pianist Bill Cunliffe and alto saxophonist (and clarinettist) Gary Foster would be drawn to him, playing in an ensemble that is stylishly sensitive. And with St. Marseille contributing his own brand of articulate and glistening artistry, the quintet turns this delectably considered soiree into an evening to cherish.
Track List: You Stepped Out of a Dream; Invitation; Body and Soul; Spacious; All the Things You Are; It’s What You Think; Bertha the Dragoness; Anthropology.
Personnel:Dan St. Marseille: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Claudio Roditi: trumpet, flugelhorn; Bill Cunliffe: piano; Roger Shew: bass; Paul Kreibich: drums; Gary Foster: alto saxophone, clarinet (4, 6, 7); Chris Dawson: piano (4, 6, 7).
Label: Resurgent Music
Release date: July 2015
Running time: 50:40