Marbin is presumably a hybrid of the last names of founders Danny Markovitch (saxophones) and Dani Rabin (guitar). The music of their latest album, Last Chapter Of Dreaming, is also a hybrid, but a hybrid that’s a little bit harder to describe. Nominally it’s jazz-rock, with dashes of klezmer, Spanish, new age, and prog-rock.
Markovitch and Rabin started out in Israel but ended up moving to Chicago. Shortly thereafter, they met former Pat Metheny Group drummer Paul Wertico, who soon incorporated the duo into his own Mid-East/Mid-West Alliance band, collaborating on its Impressions of a City (2009) LP. This led to Wertico — as well as former PMG bandmate and bassist Steve Rodby — to serve as the rhythm section for Marbin’s 2011 release Breaking The Cycle. Wertico and Rodby also participate on Last Chapter Of Dreaming, but as guest performers this time; Justyn Lawrence (drums), Jae Gentile (bass) have joined the band as its permanent rhythm section.
Rabin can be a very flamboyant guitarist in total command of the whammy bar: just check out the firery and passionate Jeff Beck-isms on display on cuts such as “Blue Fingers” and “Inner Monologue,” rapid John McLaughlin runs on “Volta,” or Oz Noy’s wiggly pyrotechnics on the boogie rocker “Redline.” And then he fully opens up the toolbox for a truly dazzling solo on “On The Square” (video above). He’s also pretty damned good at painting softer sonic imagery for the New Age moods found on “Breaking The Cycle,” the brief “Down Goes The Day,” and the Spanish influenced “And The Night Gave Nothing,” which is a rare case of anyone nailing Beck’s ethereal side so bang on.
Markovitch’s saxophone is primarily responsible for the unique, Klezmer and Eastern European shadings found on “Inner Monologue” and “Breaking The Cycle,” making his sax sounding much like a clarinet. He shines improvisionally, too, like on the funky break of “Redline,” and he teams up with Rabin on twisting thematic lines that set Marbin apart from other bands in the broadly defined rock-jazz arena.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the songs that sound most like the Pat Metheny Group are the songs with Wertico’s and/or Rodby’s involvement. Wertico reprises his “Manuano Six Eight” gait for the South American flavored “Purple Fiddle,” which even includes wordless vocals like many of the more melodic PMG tunes. Wertico’s tumbling drums intro sets the pace for the Eastern European melody of “The Ballad of Daniel White,” and both he and Rodby join forces for “The Way To Riches,” which is an appealing hybrid of klezmer and PMG strains; Rabin’s guitar even comes close to Metheny’s signature guitar synth sound.
From power fusion strains to Middle Eastern folk to even quaint French cafe ditties (“Cafe de Nuit”), Marbin is a crazy talented group making music hard to pin down but easy to appreciate why such prime musicians such as Paul Wertico and Steve Rodby like to hang out with them.