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Marcus Strickland: Triumph of the Heavy, Volume 1 & 2

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Here’s a gutsy move: In an age of diminishing CD sales, and at a time when mainstream U.S. culture seems more fixated than ever on the lightweight, Marcus Strickland has released a two-CD set with the daunting title Triumph of the Heavy. The good new is that there’s nonetheless plenty of “light,” in the best sense-ebullient creativity, inspired flights of imaginative fancy-on offer.

Volume 1 features Strickland leading a quartet, something he hasn’t done for several years. Pianist David Bryant plays with a full, orchestral approach; he adds both sonic depth and rhythmic impetus to the ensemble sound. The interplay between Bryant and drummer E.J. Strickland is especially arresting, with both men exploiting their instruments’ melodic, timbral and rhythmic capacities to the fullest.

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