Dominic J Marshall may not yet be a name familiar to most jazz fans around the world, but you get the feeling that this is something that could change in the not too distant future. Studying classical piano from a young age, he then switched to jazz, attending the Leeds College of Music and later at the Conservatorium von Amsterdam, where he is currently based.
Icaros is his second album release, his trio this time completed by Tobias Nijboer on bass and Kaspars Kurdeko on drums, with ten new original tunes that are both complex and accessible at the same time. At times there are shades of Canvas or In My Element era Glasper, as well as E.S.T., though the whole is very much Marshall’s own sound.
Loose In Your Atmosphere is the animated opening number, with Marshall providing some nimble work on the keyboards and the rhythm section given its chance to shine too. From there it’s onto Pointer, with something of a slow head-nodding groove until the last minute or so where Marshall plays the tune out unaccompanied.
The solo piano continues at the start of Smile For Us, with its beautifully mesmerising melodies. The bass comes in at the minute and a half point building on the mood of the first half, but when Kurdeko joins on the drums the pace really picks up and Marshall explores lots of ideas with his soloing before the spotlight falls on Kurdeko for the climax of the tune, Nijboer’s bass underpinning the tune the whole way through. Most certainly on of the high points on the set.
Sphere shows that the trio feel equally at home with more traditional jazz arrangements as contemporary sounds, with the track swinging nicely in old school almost Monk-like style.
Ojos de la Pastora starts with some gentle introspective piano before switching into a more uptempo groove with some impressive solo work from Marshall and Kurdeko again featuring strongly as the tune builds up towards a climax before returning to the more subdued original theme.
The next couple of tunes have a very contemporary groove: The Way Of The Dinosaurs is a mischievous tune that is both playful and complex at the same time; and the catchy Alongside Aliens is another wonderful tune that warrants repeated listens.
Icaros is a strong album throughout highlighting both Dominic J Marshall’s strength as composer and performer, as well as the talents of the rhythm section. This trio shows enormous promise and the album is a delight from start to finish. Let’s hope that it attracts enough attention in Japan to warrant some tour dates here in the future. Without a doubt one of the best piano trio albums of the year.
Review from London Jazz
Dominic J. Marshall Trio – Icaros
(F-IRE CD 62. CD Review By Chris Parker)
‘Icaros’ are, according to pianist/composer Dominic J. Marshall, ‘songs […] learned directly from plant spiritsand/or received in dreams’ by shamans from South American rainforest tribes, and there is indeed a direct, vibrant spontaneity characterising the ten pieces he has composed for this, the second trio album released under his name (he has also issued, while he was studying at Leeds College of Music, a trio album under the name Tyratarantis).
Icaros features a different bass/drums pairing from the one on Marshall’s debut (The Oneness, reviewed elsewhere on this site), Tobias Nijboer and Kaspars Kurdeko respectively, and they bring a crisp, rattling, street-smart propulsiveness to his music, particularly to his trademark fiercely dramatic, tumultuous pieces featuring cascading, often downright grandiloquent piano.
There are also, of course, quieter moments in this rich and varied set, but at whatever tempo they set for themselves, the trio imbue their playing with all the inspired, fiercely interactive energy suggested by the album’s title, and Icarosshould be investigated by all those listeners already drawn to contemporary jazz-piano-trio music by the likes of Kit Downes, Curios, Alex Hutton et al.