Joe Marcinek is anything but conventional. He is an artist with a vision. A musician who not only embraces challenge but thrives on it. Like most Jazz composers, he firmly believes in the concept of improvisation. So much so that he uses a revolving cast of players for each and every one of his performances. An approach that has awarded him much critical praise and notoriety. So much so that he and his band recently performed for former president Bill Clinton’s Clinton Global Initiative at the Field Museum in Chicago. It takes a very brave, self-assured musician to welcome the unknown the way he does. Playing shows with new musicians on a nightly basis could be viewed as a terrifying, daunting task for most, but not for him. He does so because he openly states that he loves being kept on his toes. He views it as a tool of precision.
Shockingly, his band’s latest release, Slink does not reflect any of this ideology. This is a direct affair, a straight up Jazz-Funk album. It is melodic and honed in from the get go. Opener “George Washington” features an insanely memorable guitar line and equally notable bass break downs. “Bernie” a tribute to the late, Bernie Worrell of P-Funk fame, is a steady synth driven gallop which will have you incessantly tapping your foot. Oddly enough, Bernie is the man himself behind the keys. The track was recorded shortly before his passing. “Everyone Has Their Days” uses the saxophone and more importantly its playing by Nicholas Gerlach to guide the ship deeper into the melodic waters. Here the band sounds like a well balanced mixture of smooth jazz and freaky funk fusion. At times they sound like what I imagine a jam session between Miles Davis 70’s electric band and the Joshua Redman Band would sound like. Many tracks feature the latent funk of the former and the melodic directness of the latter.
I find it very exciting that a musician who prides himself on improv and the unknown in a live session can go into the studio and make such a decisive, literal album. The best stories always have two sides. This one will have you dancing in your head and with your feet.
Author: Colin Seymour