Phil Markowitz: Catalysis




Phil Markowitz (piano)


Catalysis (Sunnyside 1194)

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Phil Markowitz (piano), Adam Nussbaum (drums), Jay Anderson (bass).

Composed by Phil Markowitz


Recorded: Ossining, New York, August 28-29, 2006


Rating: 86/100 (learn more)

In case you have forgotten your chemistry, "catalysis" is the increase in the rate of a chemical reaction caused by the presence of a catalyst. The catalyst here is pianist Phil Markowitz, who steps forward as a leader on this CD, but has unleashed many of his previous chemical reactions in the context of bands fronted by Dave Liebman, Chet Baker and the Saxophone Summit. Markowitz is a master at churning, probing jazz that constantly pushes against the edges of the harmonies. He enjoys lingering at the liminal point where tonality still exerts some gravitational pull, but Markowitz is close enough to his atonal neighbors that he can almost join hands over the barbed-wire fence. His piano attack is biting and precise, and his improvised lines never settle for the conventional. This is jazz purged of romanticism . . . but, hey, what do you expect when the leader names the song (and CD) after a chemical reaction?

Reviewer: Ted Gioia


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