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Riddle of the Sphinx

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Description

jazz musician presents an Egyptian-themed release, featuring all song titles related to that exotic land; includes "Black Nile," "Isfahan" & other well-known songs, as well as originals

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The African civilization of Ancient Egypt has inspired jazz artists for decades. John Coltrane, Randy Weston, Jimmy Giuffre, and Paul Horn have recorded albums and compositions about that fabled land. With this CD, alto/soprano saxophonist Mark Gross has produced a welcome addition to that esteemed list. Backed by Mulgrew Miller on piano, Joe Locke on vibraphone and marimba, Darryl Hall on bass, Brian Blade on drums, and Khalid Kwame Bell on percussion, Gross leads a jazzy caravan to where the past meets the present. Gross's "Valley of the Dry Bones" and the title track (with John LaBarbera on oud) echo Yusef Lateef and Coltrane's exotic, mid-1960s excursions. On Miller's "Eastern Joy Dance," the pianist adopts McCoy Tyner's pointillistic chord voicings, which are powered by Blade's intricate nod to Elvin Jones. Gross's heartfelt takes on Billy Strayhorn's "Isfahan," Kenny Garrett's "Lullabye of Isfahan," Cannonball Adderley's "Marabi," and Wayne Shorter's classic "Black Nile" show off his full alto and soprano sax sound. The twin peaks of the CD are the "The Red Sea," with its bewitching ostinato, and the habaneralike "The Desert Sands of Cairo." The motto of J Curve, this astounding project's record label, is "historic moments in jazz," and they have one here. --Eugene Holley Jr.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 16, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: J-Curve Records
  • ASIN: B00004SVIJ
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #621,051 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Robert Middleton on October 7, 2000
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Another talented saxophonist emerges with a debut CD (U.S Release) that delights and amazes. Most solo debuts are often cautious collections of standards without a lot that challenges. Instead, Mark Gross has emerged with a concept album with Egypt as the theme. And every song is a gem. Five self-penned titles and five others - one each from from Mulgrew Miller (appearing here on piano), Wayne Shorter, Kenny Garrett, Duke Ellington (in a sublime Miller-Gross duet of Isfahan), and Cannonball Adderly. It's a seamless, flowing dynamic whole. One begins to feel something special on the opener "Valley of the Dry Bones" with a marimba solo by Joe Locke followed by a searing, sinuous solo by Gross that ultimately blends and fades with John LaBarbara's Oud.
This is inspired stuff, ranking with Randy Weston's Spirit of our Ancestors. Recently Robert Stewart attempted an Eastern-inspired outing (The Force, 1998) with a similar sound but poor production decisions which led many of the tunes into meandering drum solos. No production mistakes here. Each tune is finely conceived and a mini-masterpiece in its own right. Each piece flows logically into the next. An album that guys will like for it's energy and inventiveness and women will relish for it's sesuousness and warmth. My choice for the best jazz CD of 2000 so far. Congratulations to Mark for a spectacular debut. His is a brilliant new voice in the all-too-conservative world of today's jazz. One can only hope he can keep the faith and vision for future projects.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
My 2nd album, casted with a Stella band.
Wonderful recording, good tunes.
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By A Customer on January 23, 2002
Format: Audio CD
The first time I heard "Riddle of the Sphinx" on the radio, I was more than impressed. It took a while to track this cd down, but it was well worth it. Mark Gross' music is fantastic. It's the perfect thing to listen to anytime, whether looking for a boost or something to relax to.
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