Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mark Elf: Mark Elf Returns 2014

Jen Bay Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Mark Elf Returns 2014

Guitarist Mark Elf, born in Queens, New York City, began playing at the tender age of 11, and has performed with some true jazz giants during his subsequent 30-year career; Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Wynton Marsalis, the Heath Brothers and Jon Hendricks are the most famous. Elf began to teach in the 1970s, both in the States and overseas, and he formed his own recording company (Jen Bay) in 1995; this is his newest release.

Elf recognized early that being from the Big Apple was, at times, a disadvantage; the surrounding area boasts far more musicians than potential jobs to support them. As a result, Elf became impressively successful at the art of selling himself, particularly on jazz-oriented public radio stations.

This album features his quartet — David Hazeltine (piano), Peter Washington (bass) and Lewis Nash (drums) — on all but one track; a second percussionist (Steven Kroon) joins the group for the remaining cut. Elf wrote seven of the 10 tunes, and the rest are Great American Songbook standards: “It Was So Beautiful,” by Freed and Barris; “Time on My Hands,” by Youmans, Adamson and Gordon; and “People Will Say We’re in Love,” by Rogers & Hammerstein.

I’ve always loved the combination of piano and guitar in a tightly knit combo, and this release truly soothes my soul. You’re bound to enjoy it just as much.

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