Michael Marcus Trio: In the center of It All

While any number of people claim to have been inspired by Rashaan Roland Kirk, Michael Marcus is one of a very few whose music has obviously been influenced by him. It puts Marcus in a curious position, however, since rabid Rashaanites are probably as likely to view him as an imitator as a successor. In any case, Marcus is the only guy out there who seems to be playing the stritch and saxello and playing two horns simultaneously along Kirkian lines. He also collaborates with a former Rashaan accomplice, Rahn Burton, who appeared on Introducing Roland Kirk and The Inflated Tear, for Marcus’ organ trio record, In the Center of It All.

Marcus cites Larry Young and others as motivating him to want to do an updated kind of organ trio recording, and In the Center of It All qualifies. The material includes some quirky originals and an unusual reading of Monk’s “Pannonica.” Burton has some very interesting moments as a soloist, but I think this one is going to appeal primarily to folks who really like the organ. Those who prefer it in small doses may find the thick sound on “Pannonica” disconcerting. Marcus does display some good compositions, like the compellingly simple ballad “Goodbye to the Smile,” for which trumpet and trombone are added.