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Phil Markowitz has been on the jazz scene for several decades, though the veteran pianist is more widely known to many jazz fans as a sideman than as a leader, having worked with Chet Baker, Bob Mintzer, Dave Liebman, Jack Wilkins, Al Di Meola and many others. But Markowitz has written a number of impressive compositions over the years, one of the best being "Sno' Peas," recorded by the late Bill Evans on his album Affinity (Warner Bros., 1978), with Toots Thielemans.
Catalysis is just his fourth CD as a leader, but like his earlier efforts, it is a potent session full of tense, challenging post-bop works. Joined by bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Adam Nussbaum, many of Markowitz's eight selections have an ominous edge to them, beginning with the opener, "M.D.A.," which is built upon an eerie unison line between the piano and bass, accompanied by sparse percussion. The title of "For the Sake Of ..." suggests that one is about to hear a ballad, but it is a turbulent up-tempo affair with the energy of his earlier composition, "Taxi Ride." The swaggering "Whys and Wherefores" is a bit cynical, giving the impression of politicians talking at length without providing solutions to real problems. Nussbaum's role becomes more prominent in the hurried atmosphere of the title track as he switches to brushes. "Fine" closes the release in a more conventional setting, while retaining an element of potential danger woven into its theme.
Track Listing: M.D.A.; For the Sake of...; Breach; Whys and Wherefores; Undercurrents; Waiting; Catalysis; Fine.
Personnel: Phil Markowitz: piano; Jay Anderson: bass; Adam Nussbaum: drums.