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June 2004

Jeff Marx
Treading Air/Breathing Fire
Soluna

Treading Air, Breathing Fire (Soluna), from tenorist Jeff Marx, is yet another example of cutting edge, exploratory jazz. Like some of the saxophonists noted above, Marx can improvise extraordinary post-Coltrane hard bop/modal choruses, but often chooses to break out of the mold and open up his solos with techniques appropriated from the world of free jazz, including a flexible sense of time. And his colleagues-pianist John Esposito, bassist Ira Coleman and drummer Peter O'Brien-share his aesthetic.

Marx is credited with four compositions and Esposito three, although in some instances it appears their role was to contribute a short head and a plan of attack. Esposito's 16-minute "Scare 'Em, Stupid," recorded live, is a good example of the latter, although his other two are carefully constructed, full-blown melodies. Marx's compositions also exhibit harmonic and rhythmic sophistication. "Desperate Measures," for, example, begins in a quick 9/4 before dropping into a 4/4 groove. Marx and Esposito's long-time musical association afford them the kind of empathy essential to this type of interplay. Coleman and O'Brien fit in with them quite well.

Originally published in June 2004
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