Max Marshall

Originally from Chicago and now based in New York, pianist Max Marshall has performed throughout the United States with groups such as El Fuego Lento, Line of Sight and the Latin-Fusion group, the Media Noche Trio. In 2010 Marshall was invited to participate in the Steans Institute for Young Jazz Artists, in residence at Chicago’s Ravinia Festival. Since completing musical studies at Denison University and the Indiana University School of Music, he has appeared at several notable venues including The Blue Wisp in Cincinnati, The Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis, Cleopatra’s Needle in New York and twice at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. An active recording artist, Marshall has appeared on nearly a dozen albums, and has performed with several jazz luminaries including Ignacio Berroa, Terrell Stafford, Rufus Reid, Pete McCann and Michael Spiro.

Here’s what Scott Yanow has to say about Max:

Max Marshall is an up-and-coming pianist and composer originally from Chicago who is based in New York. Based on the music he performs on Instant Camaraderie, he has already arrived as a significant jazz musician.

For this consistently impressive set, Marshall is joined by altoist Sharel Cassity (who switches to soprano on two numbers), trumpeter Benjamin Sampson, bassist Marcos Varela and drummer Jay Lawrence. The music is mostly modern hard bop. The quintet performs five of Marshall’s originals, one of Cassity’s songs, and three standards with enthusiasm, high musicianship and a full understanding of the material.

Instant Camaraderie begins with the 16-bar minor blues “The Voice,” a performance that has lively piano, alto and trumpet solos, serving as an excellent introduction to the group. “The Rabeline” alternates between being a melancholy ballad and a medium-tempo exploration. “That’s What You Think,” a happy and likable melody played over the chord changes of a standard, has swinging solos all around with Marshall, trumpeter Sampson, altoist Cassity and drummer Lawrence (who takes a full chorus) improvising with plenty of spirit. “Astrid’s Theme” is a contrast, a brooding ballad that has flugelhorn and soprano trading off and harmonizing together. Marshall and bassist Varela contribute thoughtful solos.

A happy romp through Clifford Brown’s “Joy Spring” launches the second half of the CD. Cassity’s “Kisor The Despisor” is a complex piece that challenges the musicians who nevertheless contribute swinging statements. The ancient standard “When I Grow Too Old To Dream” is a change of pace. While the horns sit out, the trio gives the song an unusual treatment with modernized chords, a bass line reminiscent of “All Blues,” and some very original harmonies that perfectly fit this new version. John Coltrane’s “Lazy Bird” and the pianist’s modern piece “Under” wrap up this excellent set.

The well rounded program is a fine showcase for Max Marshall’s piano playing, his originals, and the notable playing of his sidemen. It is easily recommended to fans of modern straight ahead jazz.

-Scott Yanow, author of ten books including Trumpet Kings, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76