MIKE CLARK & MICHAEL ZILBER

MikeClark cover web

Album: Mike Drop
Label: Sunnyside Records
Vertrieb: Broken Silence
VÖ: 23. Juli 2021
 

Manchmal gibt es Musiker, die für eine Zusammenarbeit geradezu prädestiniert zu sein scheinen. Sie können von verschiedenen Orten und sogar aus verschiedenen Generationen kommen, aber ihre Verbindung wird unmittelbar und tief sein. Das ist die Art von Beziehung, die sich zwischen dem legendären Schlagzeuger Mike Clark und dem herausragenden Saxophonisten Michael Zilber entwickelt hat. Ihre Freundschaft und ihr musikalischer Zusammenhalt sind sofort zu spüren, wenn man ihre neue Aufnahme "Mike Drop" hört. 

 

New York City übt eine natürliche Anziehungskraft auf Jazzmusiker aus, und so war es auch für Zilber, der die Stadt regelmäßig besuchte, um dort Gigs und Sessions zu spielen, eingetaucht in diese heftige und konzentrierte Umgebung. Während einer dieser Reisen lernte er Clark durch ihren gemeinsamen Freund Michael Barsimanto kennen. Sie schätzten die Fähigkeiten des jeweils anderen sofort, da Zilbers harter, treibender Stil aus New York City gut zu Clarks tadellos swingendem und fokussiertem Schlagzeug-Ansatz passte. Ihre Sessions waren auch unterhaltsam und lustig, ganz zu schweigen von einer guten Stimmung. 

 

Anfang 2018 wurde Clark für das San Jose Winter Jazz Festival gebucht und nutzte die Gelegenheit, in seine alte Heimat in der Bay zurückzukehren, indem er eine Reihe von Gigs und Clinics fand. Zilber schloss sich Clark bei dem Auftritt in San Jose an und sie erhielten eine enorme Resonanz. Außerdem buchten sie eine Woche lang Auftritte mit dem befreundeten Bassisten Peter Barshay und dem talentierten Pianisten Matt Clark. Die Situation war so günstig, dass Zilber vorschlug, das Quartett in 25th Street Recording in Oakland für eine Old-School-Aufnahmesession unterzubringen, bei der sie auf eine Trennung verzichteten und stattdessen ein entspannteres Live-Feeling hatten.

 

Die bewegenden Darbietungen auf Mike Clark und Michael Zilber's Mike Drop zeigen, dass sich verwandte Geister unabhängig von der Entfernung finden lassen. Obwohl sowohl Clark als auch Zilber von der Westküste stammen, fanden sie ihre Verbindung in der Liebe zur ernsthaften Seele eines der unverwechselbaren Stile von New York City: einem ernsthaft swingenden, freien Jazz.

 MUSICIANS:

Mike Clark: drums

Michael Zilber: tenor & soprano saxophones

Matt Clark: piano

Peter Barshay: bass

 

TRACK LISTING:

Barshay Fly | Sonny Monk | Passion Dance | You Know I Care | Blackbird | Norwegian Wood | Miyako | Monk's Dream | Falling In Love

 

Sometimes there are musicians who seem to be fated to collaborate. They can come from different places and, even different generations, but their connection will be immediate and deep. This is the type of relationship that has developed between legendary drummer Mike Clark and stellar saxophonist Michael Zilber. Their friendship and musical cohesiveness can be felt immediately upon hearing their new recording, Mike Drop

 

Originally from Northern California, Mike Clark has been one of the most celebrated drummers of his generation. Having made a name through his tenure with Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, Clark left his home base in the Bay Area in 1979 to pursue opportunities in New York City and beyond. It proved to be the best move of his life, as this allowed him to play with his heroes, the true New York City cats.

 

Michael Zilber grew up in Vancouver, Canada but always felt deeply connected to New York City, coming from three generations of New Yorkers, including his parents, who met and fell in love in Manhattan.  Zilber pursued his musical path in Boston before settling in the Big Apple for almost a decade. In 1992, a teaching opportunity shifted the saxophonist’s attention to California, where he relocated and has been a fixture in the Bay Area jazz scene ever since.

 

New York City has a natural pull for jazz players and so it was for Zilber, who continued to visit the City regularly, playing gigs and sessions, immersed in that fierce and focused environment. It was during one of these trips that he was introduced to Clark by their mutual friend, Michael Barsimanto. Their appreciation for each other’s skill sets was immediate, as Zilber’s New York City hard driving style fit well with Clark’s impeccably swinging and focused drum approach. Their sessions were also conversational and fun, not to mention a good hang. 

 

In early 2018, Clark was booked to play the San Jose Winter Jazz Festival and capitalized on the opportunity to return to his old stomping grounds in the Bay by finding a number of gigs and clinics. Zilber joined Clark on the San Jose gig and they received a tremendous response. In addition, the booked a week’s worth of gigs with a mutual friend bassist Peter Barshay and the talented pianist Matt Clark

 

The situation was so opportune that Zilber suggested getting the quartet into 25th Street Recording in Oakland for an old school recording session, where they eschewed separation for a more live and relaxed feeling. The pieces that the group played were pieces they had played over the previous week, along with a couple of originals and arrangements by Zilber.

 

The recording begins with Zilber’s ode to their virtuoso bass player, “Barshay Fly,” which takes a bass line Barshay played on a gig as inspiration and creates a grooving piece for the ensembles’ solo flights. Zilber reimagines elements from Sonny Rollins’ iconic solo on “Tune Up” and a four-note motif from Thelonious Monk’s “If I Were a Bell” and a bit of the bridge from “Ruby My Dear” to create “Sonny Monk (If I Were A),” a hard swinging piece that allows for a bit of solo trading between Clark and Zilber. Clark introduces McCoy Tyner’s “Passion Dance” with an emphatic drum solo, setting the tone for a true quartet workout.

 

The quartet shows its romantic side on Duke Pearson’s “You Know I Care” with wistful solos from all and Clark’s warm, gauzy brush work. The Beatles are one of Zilber’s passions, as he even leads a Fab Four centered funk band called John & Paul Reimagined. Here Zilber presents his tremendous arrangements of “Blackbird” and “Norwegian Wood,” the former with a bouncing pulse, harmonic reworking and Zilber’s poignant soprano while the latter finds the meditative tune traversing through six keys. These prove to be Clark’s first attempts at playing the Beatles material and he owns them. 

 

Wayne Shorter’s gorgeous “Miyako” is haunting with Zilber’s mournful soprano, Matt Clark’s thoughtful keys and Mike Clark’s sparkling cymbal work. Barshay’s playful arrangement of Monk’s “Monk’s Dream” makes clear the joyous feel the quartet could blossom and provides a showcase for the bassist’s outstanding solo voice. The recording concludes with Rodgers and Hart’s “Falling In Love with Love,” the well-loved standard taken at an infectious up-tempo swing only cementing the quartet’s effervescent character.

 

The moving performances on Mike Clark and Michael Zilber’s Mike Drop show that kindred spirits can be found no matter the distance. Though both Clark and Zilber came from the West Coast, they found their connection in a love of the serious soul of one of New York City’s distinctive styles: a seriously swinging, free range jazz. 

 

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