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Joe Martin: Passage

Joe Martin is a New York player of the “musician’s musician” variety. Passage (Fresh Sound New Talent), his recording debut, is first and foremost a showcase for the rapport he shares with tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, pianist Kevin Hays and drummer Jorge Rossy. Their chemistry is apparent on this program of original compositions, fashioned with these players in mind. It’s no slight to Martin to say that the musicianship of this group tends to overshadow the material they’re playing; Turner in particular is a standout voice in the mix, his lines weaving serpentine through wide-open spaces. Martin is an unobtrusive but unfailingly steady bassist, and he’s obviously comfortable sharing timekeeping duties with the ever-graceful Rossy. What’s perhaps most remarkable about this album is its ruminative, almost melancholy tone-an aura that suffuses even the bright-tempo selections. This may be due to the album’s recording date (December 2001), or it could owe more to the proclivities of its players. In either case, Martin has crafted something worthwhile; it’ll be good to see where this Passage leads.

Originally Published