CD review: Dominic J Marshall

Reviewed by JJ Wheeler

Continuing F-IRE’s current crop of stylistically varied output is Dominic J Marshall with a piano trio record that has really made me sit up and pay attention. Still in his early 20s, Marshall, of Scottish descent, is based in Amsterdam although previously studied in Leeds. This isn’t his first trio record, having released The Oneness in 2011, but it certainly makes a statement.

First off, I have to comment on the CD’s title and Marshall’s intent that it be known Icaros are songs learned directly from plant spirits and are received in dreams. That’s interesting reading for the liner notes, but I really struggle to understand where this comes into the tunes on show. Perhaps the underlying point is some sort of justification of each decision made musically? But justification this record doesn’t need. For all I care it could be called Fireman Sam Was Only In It For The Glory, shattering my cherished childhood illusions – it’d still be an exceptional work of intensely exciting and fresh music.

Besides that though, from the perspective of someone admittedly lacking in knowledge of Amazonian Shaman chanting, you can hear (with my wine-taster’s guide tone in operation) hints of Vijay Iyer, essence of Robert Glasper and possibly even a slight scent of EST. Marshall sounds like a well-versed pianist with an ear for everything throughout the history of jazz and beyond, certainly unafraid to bare his love of hip-hop. Think J-Dilla or The Roots and you’re probably hitting the mark.

And so it is unsurprising that the basis of what is a record full of intricately designed compositions and solos delivered with impeccable rhythmic accuracy, the depth of the groove is what gels everything together. There’s a clear appreciation of this from bassist Tobias Nijboer and drummer Kaspars Kurdeko, both as integral as Marshall in a performance which attests to their 100% commitment and flawless delivery.

In a recent review I warned of the danger of breaching the hour mark in a recording, stating my dubiousness and aversion to those that do without being exceptionally special. Well, this proves to be one of the rare exceptions to the rule. Every minute is packed with intrigue, twists and turns in rhythm, harmony and melody alike, yet nothing too obtuse or crass that the lister’s ear is offended – a perfect balance is struck.

This is certainly on a par with any other piano trio I’ve heard this year, if not better. There’s no mistaking Marshall’s ferocious talents both in composition and delivery. A five-star offering if ever there was one.

So I finish this review with an open letter to Dominic J Marshall:

Dear Dominic,
Please come back!

Categories: CD review

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