JMB4 is like a well-tailored suit — sharp, well cut and it feels good. The ‘outfit’ that Joe Marcinek put together is all the best material –a unique lineup on every album and tour to keep his material fresh and make every show a unique experience. For JMB4, he put together an all star lineup with the core of Tony Hall (Dumpstaphunk), Nikki Glaspie (The Nth Power), and Shaun Martin (Snarky Puppy, Shaun Martin Three-O).
This is such a well-played and composed album and it’s highly recommended. Although it’s Joe’s ‘band’ he doesn’t try to dominate and gives each contributor air. In that way, each song is unique but the album is unified. It’s like a throwback album and I make some references to jazz legends but Joe definitely has a unique approach overall giving it a very fresh sound. Check out what he had to say about it in the highlight boxes in this writeup.
The original idea for JMB4 pre pandemic was to use a different lineup on each song of the album. We got two tracks done before the shutdown. The first was with the George Porter Jr Trio and the second was with Melvin Seals. I was really stoked but then the world shut down. So I had to pivot. The silver lining of this whole crazy year was finally having the time to sit and write new music at home. I wrote more music this past year than my whole life combined. I was also super lucky to get to rehearse with two local musicians Andy Sutton and Ola Timothy and we worked out these new tunes. Then over the year got to play them live with a few different lineups. So by February they were ready to go. We got to record at Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL with Tony Hall, Nikki Glaspie, and Shaun Martin. I would not say there was a theme in mind just capturing the vibe of what I was feeling while writing these tunes. A song like Yes could be timeless for me as it combines my big influences of The Meters, Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers. But a song like JF Blues was written during what would of been Jazz Fest last April. So then the final piece came as a accident. JMB4 or B4 or Before. THe idea was I wanted to keep the spirit of before the pandemic alive – the energy and love and not lose it to the fear and uncertainty of Covid. The album cover shows the guitar or music tree bursting through concrete. Coming alive again. Somewhere I guess there is a concept in there.
I’ve got a list in my phone of words or phrases that I like and could be a song title. So sometimes there is no connection from the title to the song. Other times it reflects the meaning like JF Blues. I will say Night Owl is a reflection of the time I was writing most of these songs. So the pandemic starts and we are stuck at home. As a musician I’m normally up late every night. Well, Covid made it even worse. So I was doing my best work from 2am till 5am every night last year. What a crazy time to be alive but I truly feel I made the most of it and trying to bring the best light out of the darkness.
Lyrid is funky as it gets with Joe riffing ahead of a wallop of a horn line from the Ron Haynes Game Changer horns. The main theme is a slick balance of Joe playing tag with the horns. Shaun Martin has a cool swirling organ solo midway and Nikki Glaspie’s pocket drumming is a hallmark of every tune on the album. Joe comes back with a turn of the melody with some beautiful chords before coming around to the head. He has a solo ride out to the close and it’s a fine start to this slick album.
Dance Factory for me has elements of Steely Dan, Spyro Gyra and George Benson mashed together in a great dish. The intro feels like a Dan tune but Joe definitely injects some Benson CTI licks in between. After the intro, Eric “Benny” Bloom knocks it out of the park with a beautiful, classy trumpet solo and keeps the tune cruising and the solo end has a Spyro vibe. Shaun Martin (Snarky Puppy, Shaun Martin Three-O) takes his distinctive turn on synth and hands off to Joe for another Benson-like solo before the main melody returns for the close out.
Yes! is the second tune with Ron Haynes Game Changer Horns and it’s a winner. After the horn-led intro, Joe plays some lush melodies with Nikki Glaspie (The Nth Power) and Shaun Martin laying in some great grooves. Norman Palm’s trombone is really out front on the horn line. Tony Hall (Dumpstaphunk) drops in some booming bass, as is his trademark playing. Midway, Shaun offers some bright spatial tones and Joe plays a very crisp section with a Metheny-esque flair. Joe’s tone is great here and he rips a section before coming back to the main theme closeout.
JF Blues has the great bluesman Eric Gales on guitar. If you don’t know he plays a right-handed guitar, upside-down left-handed. He’s a great showman himself and the combination of him and Joe on this is as greasy as it gets. Of course, Gales has a fine fuzzy solo early on. Also, it’s notable how great the core Glaspie-Martin-Hall section and they can be taken for granted. Marcinek takes his turn on an ascending blues section before he’s joined by Gales back for the catchy A section.
AGM starts with some heavy bass and light brush drumming reminiscent of the Theme From Shaft. Joe plays the main melody that has an almost spooky feel. Nikki is slapping down that drum and Shaun plays some dreamy organ. This melody is very distinctive for sure. Midway there’s a fun duet between Tony Hall heavy on bass and Joe light on guitar. Shaun brings a gospel feel to this tune with swirling organ before the finale.
Sweet Sweet starts with Shaun on glistening piano and organ and then with some deep bass backing. Joe’s phrasing on the main section is offset by great piano work and Jason Hann’s percussion is a notable addition on this tune. Sweet Sweet is definitely a Shaun Marin highlight reel as his piano work.
Supreme starts with Tony Hall on bass and some signature nasty pedal steel from Roosevelet “The Dr.” Collier. After the opening, Shaun blasts into orbit again, first with some synth and then with organ addition. Joe and Roosevelt start playing some back and forth as if they’ve been doing it forever. Nikki’s pocket is deep as ever and Shaun comes back with the synth refrain, yielding for Tony Hall to pound some heavy grooves. This sets the tone for Roosevelt to take us on a space strip. When the whole bank get’s cooking it’s a recipe for deep funk.
Night Owl has Shaun, Nikki and Tony setting up Joe with a great groove. The sharp synchronicity shines here as the core group really hits stride. Joe and Shaun playing in unison is a wonderful sound. Joe takes a meandering and solid solo before Shaun adds his patented vocoder work. Joe takes us out with the main theme fadeout and it’s a wrap.
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Joe Marcinek Band is an experience you will never forget. That is because each show features a different lineup of musicians creating a different set of music every night. The music is equal parts Chicago Blues, New Orleans Funk, Grateful Dead Psychedelia, and Jazz Fusion!
Joe Marcinek tours nationally from New York to LA and everywhere in between. Most of the lineups will only happen one time making every night a can’t miss show.
All songs written by Joe Marcinek
- Tony Hall, bass
- Nikki Glaspie, drums
- Shaun Martin, piano, organ keyboards
- Joe Marcinek, guitar
- Ron Haynes Game Changer Horns on Lyrid and Yes!
- Ron Haynes, trumpet
- Rajiv Halim, alto sax
- Norman Palm, trombone
- Eric ‘Benny’ Bloom, trumpet on Dance Factory
- Eric Gales, guitar on Jf Blues
- Jason Hann, percussion on Sweet Sweet
- Roosevelt Collier, pedal steel guitar on Supreme