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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mark Master's Ensemble Everything You Did Capri 5 Stars!

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The Mark Master's Ensemble does a masterful reharm on some of the best of the Steely Dan discography. Far from mere covers, Master's arrangements are inventive new improvisational sound scapres of some timeless classics from the iconic team of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen.
Brent Black / @CriticalJazz

Having just been released from the hospital following a rather dicey surgical procedure, I was told to rest and take it easy...That was before I went to the mailbox! The Mark Master's Ensemble does a stellar deconstruction of some of the finest tunes from the classic pop/rock songbook of the legendary Becker and Fagen and turns these classics into reharmed improvisational wonders. The "Ensemble" borders on a shifting sound somewhere between large ensemble and full blown big band depending on the tune. Featured performers on Everything You Did include Billy Harper on tenor saxophone along with Tim Hagans on trumpet, Peter Erskine on drums, Hamilton Price on bass and Anna Mjoll adding her voice to a delightful set of tunes that are far more than greatest hits. Some of the more eclectic numbers included on this release are "Charlie Freak" and "Kings." The inherent dangers of this release are blatantly obvious as the ensemble could take the safe straight ahead approach complete with predictable arrangements that come off sounding as though they have been sanitized for your protections. However when you have free jazz talent the equivalent of the previously mentioned trumpeter Tim Hagans and the great alto player Oliver Lake contributing his skills on "Chain Lighting" then you have a sonic gold mine where you can deconstruct the tunes without mangling the melodies and allow the players to create their own sonic path of least resistance and still not lose the connectivity needed to make Everything You Did work so well.

All the participants here contributed mightily to a dynamic sound and vibrant presentation that makes Everything You Did a serious jazz collective more so than the typical large ensemble. Capri Records continues to amaze with their high quality of their artists and subsequent output with the Mark Master's Ensemble no exception.

Tracks: Show Biz Kids; Bodhisattva; Do It Again; Charlie Freak; Black Cow; Josie; Fire In The Hole; Kings; Aja; Chain Lighting.

Personnel: Billy Harper: tenor sax; Tim Hagans: trumpet; Anna Mjoll: voice; Hamilton Price: bass; Peter Erskine: drums; Louis Fasman, Les Lovitt: trumpet; Stephanie O'Keefe: french horn; Les Benedict, Dave Ryan, Ryan Dragon: trombone; John Mitchell: tenor saxophone, bassoon; Gene Cipriano: tenor sax, english horn; Gary Smulyan: baritone saxophone; Brian Williams: bass clarinet; Brad Dutz: vibes, percussion.

Mark Masters: producer, arranger.