SAMIR ZARIF, STARTING POINT

Photo: Guy Van de Poel

Like many of his contemporaries Texas born saxophonist/vocalist Samir Zarif isn’t boxed in by tradition, which makes his splendidly realized debut recording, “Starting Point” (Mythology Records) something to talk about. Zarif programs his recording like a suite and it’s clear that he finds sonic quality to be as vital as rhythm and harmony, and the album unfolds with an engaging purpose. A meticulous musician with a gifted ear for composition, much of the album reaches for Trane-like highs with reverential tunes (“Dancing In The Garden Of Dead Roses”) and sinewy horn solos (“Letter To The Brothers”). But his “jazz beyond jazz” approach works best on “Fear and Deceptions,” opening the door for punchy bass notes by Zack Lober and crisp backbeats courtesy of drummers Greg Ritchie and Colin Stranahan. Zarif expertly fuses poetry slam performance art (“The Old Man’s Box”) with spacey pop electronics (“Keep The Faith”) and steps out with a remarkable vocal duet with Maria Neckam on “This Life,” a song that wears the sensitive textures of a Nick Drake tune.  (10 tracks; 57:11 minutes)

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JAZZ IN SPACE: SAMIR ZARIF, STARTING POINT

Friday, April 29, 2011

SAMIR ZARIF, STARTING POINT

Photo: Guy Van de Poel

Like many of his contemporaries Texas born saxophonist/vocalist Samir Zarif isn’t boxed in by tradition, which makes his splendidly realized debut recording, “Starting Point” (Mythology Records) something to talk about. Zarif programs his recording like a suite and it’s clear that he finds sonic quality to be as vital as rhythm and harmony, and the album unfolds with an engaging purpose. A meticulous musician with a gifted ear for composition, much of the album reaches for Trane-like highs with reverential tunes (“Dancing In The Garden Of Dead Roses”) and sinewy horn solos (“Letter To The Brothers”). But his “jazz beyond jazz” approach works best on “Fear and Deceptions,” opening the door for punchy bass notes by Zack Lober and crisp backbeats courtesy of drummers Greg Ritchie and Colin Stranahan. Zarif expertly fuses poetry slam performance art (“The Old Man’s Box”) with spacey pop electronics (“Keep The Faith”) and steps out with a remarkable vocal duet with Maria Neckam on “This Life,” a song that wears the sensitive textures of a Nick Drake tune.  (10 tracks; 57:11 minutes)

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