Marcus Strickland’s Twi-Life | Nihil Novi

Marcus Strickland Nihil Novi

Marcus Strickland’s Twi-Life
Nihil Novi
(Blue Note/Revive)
A Record Reflection by A. Scott Galloway

With song titles such as “Tic Toc,” “Alive” and “Truth,” it becomes apparent that saxophonist Marcus Strickland’s Blue Note bow is an extended meditation on life, the pull of history, the urgency of addressing the present state of this planet, ancestry and time. Rich with African roots and rhythm, the searching spirit of jazz and the boldness of hip hop, it is an optimistic and conscientious forward march to the beat of leadership’s cry. It beautifully encompasses the masculine and feminine elements of this master plan for the future via the voice of Jean Baylor, the production mastery of Marcus’ explicit choice MeShell NdegeOcello, male unison vocal chants and the various voices of the instruments. Consisting of 11 compositions and 3 introspective autobiographical interludes, Nihil Novi [roughly translating in Latin as “nothing new (under the sun)”] is a rejuvenating listen. Eschewing lengthy blowing sessions, Strickland and NdegeOcello have come up with a solid collection of songs that are rich in texture and vibration without the indulgence. The appeal, like the themes at hand, should stretch across generations.

Highlights abound including the saxophone sectional stair step melody, vocal and lyrics of “Alive,” the dialogue between the bass and African horn ensemble on “Sissoko’s Voyage,” the percussive electric piano and bass groove of “Cycle,” the soulful waltz ballad “Inevitable” (what a solo from Marcus here) and “Celestelude” which sounds like what Jaco Pastorius might be doing today. At the center of much of the music are the interplay and tandem parts of Strickland with trumpeter Keyon Harrold (fresh from work within the score of the movie “Miles Ahead”) as buoyed by his Twi-Life quintet and guests that include Pino Palladino and NdegeOcello on bass, drummer Chris Dave, guitarist Chris Bruce and the ubiquitous Robert Glasper on keyboards.

A. Scott Galloway
Music Editor
The Urban Music Scene
April 14, 2016

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