Marbin’s new album Strong Thing (out December 1) is the love child of prog rock and jazz fusion. The energetic Chicago-based band frequently stops in NoCo and packs their new record with burning solos to heat up the Colorado winter for us while they’re away on a nationwide tour.
The album starts with “Messy Mark” – its intricate bebop melody doubled by show-stealers guitarist Dani Rabin and saxophonist Danny Markovitch. Contrasting the melody, the solo section chills way out and places the listener in a super laid back blues.
In their softer moments, the band maintains energy through intensity. Their piece “Just a Little Bit (Part 1)” starts off as an emotional ballad with a beautiful melody, which is a nice break from the onslaught of blistering solos from the previous tracks. Markovitch continues this vibe when he comes in for his solo. He treats his lines like a lyric, giving his phrases clear beginnings and endings. As he progresses, he adds more frills until his solo becomes an emotionally charged monologue, with the band following his every crescendo and decrescendo.
Drummer Everette Benton Jr. keeps the album as a whole from becoming a soloing flex-off by changing up the grooves from track to track, sometimes even within the same piece. In “Just A Little Bit (Part 1 & 2),” he introduces a straight-8ths jazz ballad feel and bossa nova on Part 1. In contrast, he plays a harder groove on “Alabama Sock Party” that would feel comfortable on an early Metallica album.
Eddie Van Halen and Charlie Parker surely smiled down on Marbin when they recorded Strong Thing. Their collective energy and virtuosic solos are enough to invigorate any activity, from a long-distance run to an epic boss-battle royale.