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Michael Marcus Trio - Ithem

Larry Nai, Cadence Magazine

One of this decade's more pleasurable developments has been saxophonist Michael Marcus's higher profile on the gig circuit, possibly due to his involvement with the Cosmosomatics, the superb band he co-leads with his longtime friend and collaborator, Sonny Simmons. Ithem is a riproaring set, half live, half studio, documenting his trio with William Parker and the late Denis Charles.

Any new documentation of the great drummer Charles is to be treasured, and he is in fine form here. Somewhat rawly recorded, even on the studio takes, "Here At!" and "Ithem (Take two)," the disc puts the listener up close to the trio, Charles's moves registering with greater detail on the live tracks, and with punchier volume in the studio.
Parker is also heard to excellent advantage, and it's a particular delight to hear him display his range on Marcus's compositions, as the leader is a compelling writer. "Secret Oceans" carries strong whiffs of Eric Dolphy (Marcus really keeps the flame burning on those long, interval- jumping lines Dolphy was fond of), while the melody of "Ithem" brings to mind Albert Ayler's wayward theme statements.

Both takes of the title track offer scintillating group interplay and exciting solos from Marcus, and "Here At!" is a dramatic setting for his bass clarinet, as Parker works some heavy bow action, and Charles trances into a ritual mode.

Ayler Records continues to unearth some beautiful, historical sounds, and this one is not to be missed.