Marc Doffey Quintet – Taking Direction

Marc Doffey Quintet "Taking Direction"Here is an album that can only be enjoyed in its entirety – it is a suite-like set of tunes with lyrics and wordless vocals by singer Sabeth Pérez and also includes several little interludes to loosen it all up. Its atmospheric stance is what makes it a worthwhile listen.

Saxophonist Marc Doffey and his band mates have played together for only about two years, they picked up a lyric by Sabeth and worked their way around this piece. From the Pat Metheny-like guitar spheres of the opening track, written by guitarist Bertram Burkert, to the vulnerable and sometimes weird-sounding aesthetics of the singer, this debut album shows a lot of versatility and yet, never loses its streak.

Sabeth’s vocals and her voice take some getting used to since it is otherworldy angel-like, but not in the sense of your classic jazz or torch singer, but more in the way she manages to become a part of the whole group. In “Reunion” for example, she doesn’t really ad-lib to the leader’s bass clarinet, but rather focuses on strengthening und underscoring the almost chamber-like, haunting melody.

The coherent aspect of the album is continued with “Day Is Over”, a rich and playful piece where sax, guitar, and vocals come together as one. I really like “Shapes & Lights” with its special dynamic; “From The Shelves” is an almost melancholic tune, but with an optimistic approach and a relieving part towards the end. The interludes (eight in total) are not always tasty, but usually a fair-enough contrast to the more feathery tunes (except for the jolted “Shades Of The Night And Cities Of Light”).

Both “Fabian’s View” and “Sea Glow” are beautiful, nicely meandering tunes which underscore the slightly somber mood of the album and Marc’s stay in the Bundesjazzorchester has payed off – his lyrical and snake-like playing is gripping, like on the latter cut which has some “Someone To Light Up My Life” moments.

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