Joe Marcinek is a remarkable man. He is the catalyst bringing together talent from all across the country for short tours of amazing music. If you were playing the musical version of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, you’d win every time if you picked Marcinek. In the past year or so, for instance, he has worked with a stunning array of musicians, including:
Keyboards: Dr. Bernie Worrell, Steve Molitz, Joey Porter, Holly Bowling
Bass: Tony Hall, Freekbass, Janis Wallin
Drums: Allen Aucoin, Alvin Ford, Jr., Nate Werth, Pete Koopmans
Also: Fareed Haque, Natalie Cressman, Jennifer Hartswick, Nicholas Gerlach
You get the picture. No matter where he goes, he kicks so much ass there are no names left to take.
And now there is a fabulous new album out, absolutely superb. It’s titled Slink, and it belongs right at the top of the jazz-funk-jam charts. Much credit goes to Joey Porter (The Motet), who was producer, arranger and mixer, and he wrote one tune on the album.
Make no mistake: Marcinek can rock with the best of them, but this album is a pure funk jazz delight.
Did we mention Porter also plays his starship console of keyboards?
Marcinek, who plays guitar, is also joined by Porter’s Motet bass counterpart, Garrett Sayers, and Pete Koopmans on drums (Family Groove Company). And that basic quartet is joined by Nicholas Gerlach (tenor saxophone), Gabriel Mervine (The Motet, trumpet), and Joel Scanlon (percussion). Engineer Joshua Fairman even added hand claps.
Slink kicks off with “George Washington,” one of the best funk songs. EVER. In concert, he and bandmates have blown this up into 15- to 20-minute jams with everybody stretching out. On the album, it is a terse, concise, explosive tune. Koopmans lays down a nasty beat, joined by Sayers, with Porter on Hammond B3.
Marcinek solos first. Because of his magnetic personality, drawing in so much great talent, you might not notice at first what a superlative guitar player he is, very much in the Meters / Eddie Roberts mode but absolutely his own man. So much harkens back to Grant Green and the other jazz giants of the ’60s and ’70s. Porter takes the second slot, his Hammond B3 glowing in the dark it’s so hot. did we mention Koopmans? Damn…
“Everyone Has Their Days” continues in the same vein, with more great work from Koopmans. A word about this great drummer. At a recent set of shows, Koopmans played with Joe, Molitz and Freekbass, and Koopmans was brilliant. Porter’s organ opens, and then it’s Gerlach carrying the melody, joined in a bit by Marcinek’s fine picking. Their unison playing is sublime. Sayers has his say, and you understand why it is “all about that bass.” And drums.
Things get a bit wiggy on “Outro,” which might remind you of some of those jangly tunes from Scofield’s A Go Go with Medeski, Martin and Wood. Trippy goodness, with Sayers and Porter in deep funk mode, Gerlach surfing on top of the madness.
Marcinek rights the ship for “Holtsford,” straight-up New Orleans in the tradition. Koopmans nails the Second Line perfectly. Gerlach and Mervine are dynamite together advancing the melody. Porter is all over this with B3 and piano, and Gerlach takes a fine solo.
“Bernie” has a guest on synthesizers, and, yes, it is the late great Dr. Bernie Worrell. He and Marcinek had worked together on several occasions, most recently last New Year’s Eve. Porter still mans the other keyboards, but Worrell has a synthesizer blast on this one, P-Funk deliciousness. Marcinek’s solo has an appropriately different tone to it. Sayers again reminds us why he is so revered for his work with The Motet.
And this was the very last recording Bernie made before he returned to the Mothership June 24th.
“Soffa” starts all slinky, and Marcinek reminds you of a world of guitar players: George Benson, Phil Upchurch, Ronnie Jordan and more. The mid-tempo tune features so great synth work from Porter and a relentless beat from Koopmans. Porter’s solo is a mix of synth and clavinet, and then Marcinek powers through his strongest solo on the album.
There is such a NOLA feel throughout the album, and it really rises to the fore again on “Slink” (all seven of these tunes penned by Marcinek). Gerlach and Mervine are in perfect lockstep, Crescent City-style. Porter channels that magical Neville sound on B3. Did we mention Koopmans’ awesome Second Line drumming? Not often enough!
Porter gets the last word with another nifty NOLA homage appropriately titled “Crescent Roll.” Think Jazz Crusaders. Porter’s piano is so spot-on, and of course the B3 is there as well. Once again, Gerlach and Mervine sound amazing. Marcinek has a superb solo, and Mervine steps out in the Pops tradition. Koopmans gets one more blast before everyone returns to finish off the “Crescent Roll.”
This album will put a smile on your face from ear to ear. Not to mention that it’s “good to your earhole!”
Twenty seconds of “George Washington” should be enough to convince you.