Having reviewed the recordings of Philadelphia jazz flutist Marc Adler, including those under his own name and a collaboration with vocalist Paul Jost, we can turn to his most recent recording which has appeared very recently — in late August 2020. This is another collaboration, this time with drummer Vic Stevens.
Selections: 1. All in a Day 2. Carrigan’s Way 3. Narrow Escape 4. Desert Jewel 5. What It Is 6. Ode to JF 7. Labyrinth
Personnel: Vic Stevens – Drums and Percussion; Marc Adler – Flute, Alto Flute; Jason Long – Piano; Andy Lalasis – Bass (1-5); Sandy Eldred – Bass (6 & 7); Robert Vieira – Violin (6 & 7); Susan Aquilla – Viola (6 & 7); Tony Pirollo – ‘Cello (6 & 7) Recorded and mixed at Giant Steps Recording, Winslow, NJ . Artwork and Design by Marlene D’Orazio Adler.
“A lot can happen in a day and this collection of musical works reflects many such days of creative endeavors over the course of time that Vic Stevens and I have known each other. This recording is a collaboration between us and the selections were recorded and mixed at Vic’s studio in New Jersey. They have the unique honor of being the last project done there before his move to North Carolina.
“Not only is Vic an accomplished drummer, percussionist and composer but he is a meticulous and sensitive studio engineer who is patient with the musicians in his studio and very knowledgeable about recording techniques – essential qualities for successful recordings. We all enjoyed recording these tunes at Giant Steps Recording and wish him continued success in North Carolina.
“Two of the selections involve a string trio and we would like to thank the ‘cellist, Tony Pirollo not only for his beautifull playing but for finding the two other string players to round out the trio – Susan Aquilla (viola) and Robert Vieira (violin). They were fun to work with and interpreted the music brilliantly – some of which was quite challenging! Of course, none of this would be possible without the creative contributions of Jason Long (piano); Andy Lalasis (bass) and Sandy Eldred (bass). All in a Day is a fitting tribute to a lasting musical friendship and it is dedicated to all of our family and friends.”
There is much about this session that offers continuity with Adler’s previous work. Marc‘s style seems to be well developed by the time he began recording, only it has been maturing and becoming more focused and personal. His work is in many ways similar to several contemporary exponents of jazz flute, only he has developed a personal sheen, a unique approach to chromaticism in his solo lines as he finds a very personal way through the chord sequences, plus some very personal ways of articulating the line. He is not too difficult to follow, but any student wishing to duplicate his style will find it quite challenging. And as before, he has adapted his playing to the unique personnel he finds himself with. In addition, here he is working with almost all original material. Except for All in a Day, which is composed and arranged by Vic Stevens, all the arrangements are by Adler. In addition, he is responsible for all the compositions except for Carrigan’s Way which is composed by Dean Carrigan. Other than that, this is all Adler.
Carrigan’s Way and Narrow Escape have a somewhat dark, moody feel about them, featuring some nice grooves alternating with more open playing. The rhythm section members contribute some quality solo work, along with Adler‘s characteristic phrasing. Desert Jewel is a little more tightly scored, with fleet solo work from Jason Long and more tasteful soloing from Andy Lalasis before Adler enters with a particularly adventurous statement, What It Is has a more up-tempo, boppish feel and Adler exploiting an octave splitter. I would defy anyone to hear this and declare these to be anything but top-class jazz performers, whatever the artists’ name recognition!
When we come to the last two selections, we encounter a new dimension with the addition of a string trio. Jazz arrangers have had a somewhat spotty record when it comes to writing for strings. There have been commercial recordings with string sections providing a wash in support of a jazz vocalist or typical small-group jazz performance, and there is a growing tradition of jazz violinists as soloists, but arrangements with strings well-integrated with the more usual jazz brass and woodwinds is still something of a rarity, although more and more the subject of educational efforts.
There are always exceptions — A Stan Getz recording called Focus with string writing by Eddie Sauter comes to mind, and I remember some fine writing by flutist Anne Drummond for a concert at Dizzie’s Coco Cola Club at Lincoln Centre some years ago that impressed me. If I followed string players as well as flutists I could report more accurately. Suffice to say that it is getting better, and Marc Adler has made a significant contribution here.
If I understand it correctly, funding would not allow for strings on more of the pieces. What there is leaves us regretting that. Ode to JF finds the trio supporting the soloists but also playing a role in the ensemble writing. And Labyrinth has some nice string writing well integrated into the arrangement. I understand Adler intends to complete string parts for all these arrangements and perhaps get back into the studio to enhance the recordings. If this had included string writing throughout it would have forced itself upon the jazz critic community. As it is, we are still at a stage where a flute lead is already a liability on that score! String writing would certainly enhance Vic Stevens’ piece that names and opens the collection, All in a Day is a broad sweep of melody that cries out for more color and thus more forces — strings or perhaps a flute choir?
In any case, here is some remarkable music struggling to make itself heard in the financial desert of modern jazz. If you have an interest in the flute in jazz, it deserves your attention.
Review by Peter Westbrook
Flautist Marc Adler performs a jazz version of Debussy’s Syrinx at the Jazz Bridge neighborhood concert series in Media, PA in 2013, with Jimmy DeSalvo, piano, Duke Wilson, percussion, and Chico Huff, bass.
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