Perennial contenders for the title of The World’s Hardest Working Band, jazz-rock espousers of the Protestant work ethic Marbin released their literally titled third album last year on the highly respected Moonjune label.
Everything about this band displays frightening levels of commitment and skill, and there is absolutely no messing about to be found in these zeros and ones. Even the album title The Third Set is direct and to the point, and does exactly what it says on the tin. This album was compiled from recordings taken from ten gigs crammed in between March 3rd and April 14th 2013, which gives you an idea as to how busy these lads are. I wish they could make it to the UK, but it seems unlikely. The ten songs compiled form the “set” of the title, and the sheer captivating energy that blasts out of the speakers is reminiscent of another working class rhythm and blues hero, one Rory Gallagher.
Marbin are so named after the band’s lynchpins Dani Rabin on guitar and Danny Markovitch on saxophone, here joined by a complimentary and suitably muscular rhythm section of Justyn Lawrence on drums and Jae Gentile on the bass guitar. That basic line up fills every space with sound, and even on comparatively “quiet” moments such as the Eastern-tinged sax intro to Culture the intensity levels remain bouncing in the red.
If this album was a car, it would be an ancient gas-guzzling American V8 as it lumbers out of the starting gate, but once it hits top whack, there ain’t no stopping it. The two Dans’ foot-to-the-floor furious soloing sets the scene on Special Olympics, and the duo leave dust clouds and the smell of burning rubber in their wake. Sensibly, the speed slows for the following number, but The Depot is a still has you firmly in its grip while getting down with a bluesy workout featuring Danny Markovitch’s smokin’ sax.
Elsewhere, Dani runs the gamut of funky chopped chording, furious finger-shredding fret runs and slow solos that echo Jeff Beck at his most laid-back, while Danny alternately burns his lips off or seduces with his lazily paced sexy saxophone sinuously winding through the air. The main feeling coming through the speakers at the listener is always intensity (that word again), the music often busting a gut in the manner of a muscular workman in full swing.
For all that, Marbin have a keen ear for a good melody and they are not adverse to a dance number, Redline being an example of the latter, a tune that shimmies with a manic glint in its eye. Arrangement is the key, and with their never-ending roadburn, these guys are, as you might expect, as tight as a nut. This is down in no small part to the ridiculously tight synchopations from the rhythm section, and the whole shebang leaves the listener metaphorically sweat-drenched and breathless.
By the time we have charged through Rabak, where Danny blows a solo that somehow sees his sax mimic a trumpet, followed later by some great blues-rock-fusion soloing from Dani at 150 mph, following it with the ultra hard funk of Splaw driving it home on the one, complete with a slouch of a walking blues in the middle, we arrive breathless at the Northern Lights, where a soothing and keening sax-led tune allows us to reduce our heart rate to manageable levels.
And so to the concluding track Volta. We are all exhausted but delirious and hungry for more, and after what you rightly suspect is a teaser of a laid-back beginning, Dani’s rhythmic chording belts out the meter in an odd signature, that shifts throughout the song to show you that this band know a thing or two about making the less obvious sound playful and simple, whereas in actual fact it is anything but. Both D’s get to show their impressive chops for a final time, and it is a wonder Dani has any unbroken strings left on his guitar by the end of the set, such is the fury of the plank spanking throughout and on this song in particular. Not to be left out Danny joins in, briefly blowing in unison.
Like a demanding personal trainer, you know this album will do you good in the end if you stick with the relentless regime. You will not hear a more energetic hour’s worth of testosterone fuelled jazz-rock in this or any other year, and boy, would I like to see Marbin live this side of The Pond, but could my ticker take the strain?
01. Special Olympics (5:12)
02. The Depot (6:33)
03. Crystal Bells (6:46)
04. Redline (8:28)
05. Culture (7:05)
06. Vanthrax (5:40)
07. Rabak (8:21)
08. Splaw (6:08)
09. Northern Odyssey (3:11)
10. Volta (8:05)
Total Time – 65:34
Dani Rabin – Guitar
Danny Markovitch – Saxophone
Justyn Lawrence – Drums
Jae Gentile – Bass
Record Label: Moonjune Records
Year Of Release: 2014