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‘Russian Dolls’ came about in 2020 when saxophonist Danny Markovitch came across an old musical notebook when he and his wife were reorganizing their house. The songs inside were written when he was in a very different space, in that he was a new immigrant to America, had only recently left the army etc. Danny realized there was probably enough material for an album, so he spoke to Dani (guitar, bass) and asked what he thought. He agreed, as long as they could get in a good drummer, so they compromised and brought in a great one in Grammy and Golden awards winner Antonio Sanchez! The title was inspired by Danny’s Ukrainian wife, who has some different sets of Russian dolls and had written an essay on them describing them as a vision of ourselves, a collection of different people inhabiting the same body (our teenage selves, young love, married, work etc). This is quite a different album in many respects to what I generally think of as a Marbin album, and in many ways is much more of a solo album from Danny, which probably is not really a surprise given its genesis. The role of both Dani and Antonio is to provide support on an album which is far more straight jazz than the normal hard-edged fusion we have come to expect, although there are also some elements of Israeli folk and even some Latin. Danny has a wonderfully delicate and fluid touch on the sax, sliding up and down seamlessly, while his partner in crime has played literally thousands of shows with him so knows exactly what is needed to provide perfect support, while Antonio can sit on anything and get it right first time. Dani states that he is inspired by the likes of Charlie Parker, Julian “Cannonball” Adderely, Louis Armstrong and Sidney Bechet, and like those greats he manages to tread that fine line of incredible dexterity and skill with strong melody and passion, so there are times such as on the tango-like “Things of Dry Hours” where everything is slowed back and in a particular groove, whereas as others the note density it surreal. This is a thoroughly enjoyable, yet quite different release from one of the top jazz fusion bands around.
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