Mika Stoltzman: If You Believe

Mika Stoltzman makes the marimba sound so natural within jazz that your first thought upon hearing If You Believe might be to wonder why the instrument is so bound to orchestral and calypso settings. Several top vibraphonists-among them Gary Burton, Bobby Hutcherson and Red Norvo-have incorporated it into jazz, but Stoltzman is one of few who has taken it front and center. One major advocate is Steve Gadd, who produced If You Believe and plays drums on most tracks (son Duke Gadd plays on others). With Eddie Gomez on bass, John Tropea playing guitar, Mika’s husband, Richard Stoltzman, contributing clarinet, and ornamentation from the Harlem String Quartet, a spirited and exuberant atmosphere prevails. The marimba by nature produces a joyful tone, and Stoltzman is content to ride that out-she doesn’t stretch boundaries, but she’s quite capable of taking a melody by Corea, Ravel and Richard Stoltzman collaborator Bill Douglas and putting a solid groove to it.