/Ira Gitler's Apple chorus column in Jazz Inside_magazine, September 2010
After a sojourn in France I returned to NYC just in time to catch one of my favorite groups, the John Marshall Quintet, one one of the two annual trips the trumpeter/leader takes to New York from Germany and his regular seat in the WDR Big Band.
Marshall had the full services of his „New York band“-Grant Stewart on tenor; Tardo Hammer on piano; Neal Miner, bass; Jimmy Wormworth, drums. Jimmy really had the pots on from the opening bars of Tadd Dameron’s „Super Jet“ and all concerned were hitting it with heat.
Clifford Jordan’s „The Highest Mountain“ has a connection to the spirituals of the black church. The zeal and musicality were in everyone’s playing on this. Marshall then moved from his hard-hitting trumpet to the mellow flugelhorn on „Thinking Of You“, penned many years ago by Groucho Marx’s buddy, Harry Ruby.
John stayed with the larger horn for Barry Harris’ „Nascimento“, before vocalizing on another oldie, „I Was A Little Too Lonely“, in his unpretentious, swinging style with room for some uplifting trumpet. Marshall’s effective use of the harmon mute did not summon up Miles but enhanced the content of John’s particular attack here.
The set closed with Denzil Best’s „Move“, which showed of everyone’s chops and depth.: Stewart’s big sound, even at racehorse tempos, conveys a fertile conception, rooted in Rollins but growing in its own loam. Hammer’s time and ideas are always in the moment; his intensity raises the listener’s rapture bar. Miner, the astute, rhythmic accompanist is gutty even when he’s being tender, as in „Thinking Of You“. Wormworth’s exchanges with John, Grant and Tardo were spot on or, as I said earlier, „pots on“.
The second set began with Shearing’s „Conception“, way up and no interludes a la Miles. Monk’s „Criss Cross“ followed with Tardo setting the pace with the first solo.
Kenny Dorham’s always infectious „Una Mas“ was next. K.D. is one of John’s heroes and the the team effort made one undulate, dacing in your mind, with some seated foot movements.
Marshall switched once more to flugel for the haunting theme of „Monk’s Mood“ and Miner’s deep, resonant sound was in clear evidence. Next was a rare performance of „Thelonious“. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone play it other than its composer. Its daunting chordal setting was navigated with accurate delineation and inspired interpretation by all. Monk would have dug it, I’m sure.
The high that it created impelled a breakneck „I Know That You Know“ that blazed itsember 2010 way to the end of the set with Wormworth’s adrenaline still intact. I knew that I knew why I had sat there for two straight sets that got better and better.
/Donald Elfman, All About Jazz-New York, August, 2010
This disc is a knock-out – an old-fashioned (in the very best possible sense) jazz quintet album with hip tunes, smart playing and the kind of brevity and sense of swing always delightful to hear. Marshall was a fixture in New York, playing with Buddy Rich, Gerry Mulligan, Lionel Hampton and Mel Lewis (and that’s just a few!) and his musicianship has always been impeccable: a beautiful boppish sound on trumpet and a way of playing the right stuff for every occasion. Since 1992, he’s been the principal trumpet soloist with the WDR Big Band of Cologne.
„Waltz for Worms“ feels like a tribute to the best jazz players, some of whom are not always celebrated. The set opens with Clifford Jordan’s „The Highest Mountain“, which has two different sets of changes over which the soloists can blow. Marshall and tenor saxophonist Grant Stewart share the head and then Marshall takes off for an extended set of choruses that dazzle with both their virtuosity and expressiveness. Stewart, a full-bodied New York tenor, is next and, like the leader, is more interested in playing the tune in a band than in showing off. And that’s the kind of aesthetic that informs the whole disc.
The title tune is dedicated not to something ghoulish but rather to the veteran drummer Jimmy Wormworth, who keeps the pulse moving constantly. It’s a bluesy waltz put into play by the sensitive yet funky piano of Tardo Hammer and the bittersweet tone of Marshall’s muted trumpet.
Monk, Sonny Rollins, Jimmy Heath and Jordan represent the bop aesthetic here and it’s most assuredly alive and well. But other surprises abound as well. How often do we get to hear music by the great trombonist/arranger Tom McIntosh? His ballad „Malice Toward None“ is a gorgeous showcase for all the players. Marshall beautifully states the melody on the classic „Deep In A Dream“ and then, with a great sense of fun, sings the rarely heard „I Was A Little Too Lonely“. The album closes with the intricate and challenging format of George Shearing’s bop gem „Conception“. The quintet, as they’ve done for he previous nine tunes, handles it with the kind of assurance that is indicative of the finest jazz groups and the nost classic of recordings.
/David Franklin, Cadence, July 2010
Although none of these musicians is a household name, they are all excellent veteran players. Their relative obscurity is due in large part to location. The two Americans, trumpeter Marshall and bassist Goldsby, have spent almost all of the last two decades in Germany as members of Cologne’s stellar WDR big band. British drummer Taylor made his name abroad before becoming active on the New York Jazz scene in the mid-1990s. And tenorist Povel and pianist Van Bavel are based in their native Holland. But each of them is well-known and highly-regarded in European Jazz circles. Marshall Arts exemplifies an authentic modern day performance of unadulterated Bebop and Hard Bop. Its repertoire is heavy on such period pieces as Bud Powell’s “So Sorry, Please,” Dizzy Gillespie’s “Salt Peanuts,” Sonny Stitt’s “Eternal Triangle,” and Monk’s “Gallop’s Gallop.” And the five originals by Marshall, van Bavel, or Tom McIntosh are compatible with them in style and spirit. The musicians’ improvising also reflects mid-twentieth century values. Marshall’s Bop-fluent trumpet could have made a worthy contribution to the bands of, for example, Tadd Dameron or Horace Silver or Art Blakey. And Povel’s hard-charging ‘50s- Coltrane-influenced tenor would have been equally at home in any of the famous groups of the Hard Bop era. In fact, every band member sounds as if he could have been comfortable in those historical surroundings. But not only is their Bop genuine, it’s also wonderfully fresh, exuberant and compelling. They play with the surefooted confidence and high-level skill of seasoned professionals who love what they’re doing. Obviously, that’s what they are.