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Mark Masters: Unearthing the Masters

Mark Masters

Mark Masters has a gift for finding jazz treasures hiding in plain sight. Over the past 15 years, the Southern California-based arranger has carved out a unique niche, developing programs for the Mark Masters Ensemble built around the work of neglected improvisers and composers-or in some cases, doing the jazz-standard thing of smartly reinterpreting familiar material.

Masters won some overdue attention for himself last year with his stellar octet and nonet settings of Grachan Moncur III’s compositions on Exploration (Capri), the first new recording by the seminal 1960s trombonist in almost three decades. The album features Masters’ regular cast of top-flight players, including tenor saxophonist Billy Harper, baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan and trumpeter Tim Hagans.

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