Marcus Strickland, saxophones
David Bryant, piano
Ben Williams, bass
E.J. Strickland, drums
The great Miles Davis once said, "The thing to judge in any jazz artist is, does the man project, and does he have ideas?" If these are indeed the canonical essentials of a jazz artist at his best, then saxophonist Marcus Strickland is one of today's truest exemplars. With a professional career that has just passed the 10-year mark, Strickland's influential sound, distinguished body of work, impressive set of credentials, and steady acknowledgement from virtually every credible jazz critic have earned him a rightful place alongside the very best narrators of modern jazz.
Strickland's broad creative range, along with his emergence as a singular voice on his instrument, helped him land his first recording deal as a leader with the Fresh Sound label in the early '00s. In between releasing his first two label projects, At Last (2001) and Brotherhood (2003), Strickland was also making his case as one of the finest saxophonists in the world, placing third in the 2002 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition.
In the mid-'00s, Strickland started his own record company and released his first album, Twi-Life, for his Strick Muzik label in 2006. The disc showcased his acoustic quartet and his electric band, and it hinted at his strong predilection for the trio setting – a preference that continues to this day. His subsequent releases Open Reel Deck (2007), Of Song (2009), and Idiosyncrasies (2009) continued to cement his reputation as a musician and as a versatile bandleader.
Strickland emphasizes listening in his bands, and lately, his critics have been listening, too. Over the last six years, he has held some of the most prestigious positions in the realm of jazz journalism, being named Rising Star on Tenor Saxophone in DownBeat's 2010 Critics Poll, Rising Star on Soprano Saxophone in DownBeat's 2008 Critics Poll, and Best New Artist in JazzTimes' 2006 Readers' Poll. His latest release, Triumph of the Heavy: Vol. 1 & 2 (2011), has also won him critical acclaim in the jazz community. His covetable list of recording and performing credits includes Wynton Marsalis, Tom Harrell, Dave Douglas, Roy Haynes, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Robert Glasper, Damion Reid, Ben Williams, his twin brother E.J., and many more.
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