People who hear Todd Marcus perform often arrive expecting novelty: After all, it’s been a long time since anyone notable has used the dark and wonky bass clarinet as his main axe. But by the time they leave, listeners have experienced a lot more. Marcus can shovel notes, rhythms and concepts at you with something verging on gluttony, but he never hollers out for your attention. He confounds, soothes, excites.
Maybe it’s the instrument’s reedy, smoker’s-breath quality. Maybe it’s Marcus’s natural bend toward understatement. No matter how, Marcus manages to make his monster chops and layer-cake compositions sound humane, warm-blooded. When he hits a stride, it can feel like a wind has picked you up out of your seat.
That’s why we’re so thrilled to be presenting him in a special CapitalBop show on Friday, Sep. 5. He’ll be playing with his quartet, and the piano virtuoso Dwayne Adell—truly one of the most astonishing musicians in the city—will open things up with a solo set. It’ll show you the meaning of having a “good ear.” Tickets are just $15 in advance, or $18 at the door.
The national press hasn’t caught on to Dwayne Adell’s wild mastery (yet), but NPR Music agrees with us wholeheartedly about Todd Marcus. His latest CD with his quartet earned a spot on the site’s Top 10 Jazz Albums of the Year. He’s known for his riveting work with a large ensemble, but that record was with his quartet—putting his trenchant but poised improvisations front and center. Marcus is going to bring a four-piece to Union Arts on Sep. 5, and you already know it’s going to be a barn-burner. The band features tenor sax great Greg Tardy, powerful Baltimore drummer Eric Kennedy and young D.C. bass powerhouse Eliot Seppa.
And let’s talk for a sec about Dwayne Adell, who’s going to be teasing the keys on one of CapitalBop’s beautiful antique pianos. In a CapitalBop review from 2012, Luke Stewart wrote: “Adell reads very little music. He has minimal knowledge of music theory. But upon hearing him play, it becomes plain that none of this matters. He has the ability to play virtually anything on the piano, from jazz to classical and everything in between, all by ear.” No matter how lightning-quick his right hand moves, Adell is always impressively melodic, shooting a bluesy sing-song quality into everything he touches. For a small sample, check the video below, then come out to Union Arts for the real thing.