Mitch Marcus Quintet

Countdown 2 Meltdown

That the Bay Area jazz scene is still cooking with new players is very much in evidence on Countdown 2 Meltdown. Until a move last year back to New York, tenor saxophonist Mitch Marcus worked with his combo in and around San Francisco for 10 years and has recorded three CDs. While the group’s focus is on post-bop/progressive jazz, it also edges into rock territory thanks to guitarist Mike Abraham, who really shreds on tunes like “Coffee and Cones,” “Tron McCain” and the title track. Alto saxist Sylvain Carton whips it up on his piece, “Wonton,” a sinuous tune with a mid-Eastern feeling (“written after listening to many Ethiopiques recordings,” says the composer) that finds Abraham in a dervish-like groove and Marcus providing a lovely coda. Bassist George Ban-Weiss and drummer Tomas Fujiwara round out this combo and provide substantial heft in their accompaniments. The disc’s closing tune, “Albatross”—written in honor of the Berkeley club of the same name—with its fast-paced whimsical motif, could easily fit into a Fellini film. Marcus, a true musical chameleon, also plays keyboards in Mood Food, the Shotgun Wedding Quintet and the Afro-beat group Aphrodesia. Most notably he’s part of Donovan’s touring group. Back in the Apple he’s working clubs and jam sessions and undoubtedly planning his next CD.