Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Marlene Rosenberg Quartet: Bassprint

Origin Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Bassprint

Relatively few women embrace the acoustic bass; Marlene Rosenberg — a “territory” artist born, raised and schooled in Illinois — has done just that.

Although she has played professionally throughout the world, she performs and teaches primarily around Chicago. She began studying clarinet at the age of 10, switched to electric bass in high school, and finally settled on the acoustic instrument while attending the University of Illinois. She focused on classical bass and earned scholarships while playing with college-affiliated symphony orchestras and jazz groups; she graduated with several advanced degrees.

Thanks to a National Endowment of the Arts Jazz fellowship grant, Rosenberg could study privately with the likes of Ron Carter, Hal Galper and other renowned jazz bassists; that cemented her interest in the genre. She also studies various ethnic music forms, is active with modern dance troupes, and teaches privately in the Chicago area.

Bassprint is Rosenberg’s second self-produced album. She works here with Geoff Bradfield, tenor and soprano sax; Scott Hesse guitar; and Makaya McCravan, drums. Rosenberg wrote nine of these 11 selections, many the result of class assignments undertaken during her advanced college degree work. The remaining two songs, “Lullaby” and “Sunshower,” are by Kenny Barron.

Groups that use a guitar rather than a piano, to establish and maintain the melodic line, always deliver a “different” sound: in this case lighter and brighter. Bradfield’s use of soprano sax on several tracks augments that characteristic.

Rosenberg’s combo swings nicely and is extremely pleasant; I hope she releases additional albums.

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