Marilyn Mazur - Shamania

Label: RareNoise, 2019

Personnel - Marilyn Mazur: percussion, balaphone, kalimba; Lotte Anker: sax; Josefine Cronholm: voice, percussion; Sissel Vera Pettersen: sax and vocals; Hildegunn Oiseth: trumpet, goat horn; Lis Wessberg: trombone; Makiko Hirabayashi: keyboards; Ellen Andrea Wang: bass; Anna Lund: drums; Lisbeth Diers: percussion.


Percussion mastermind Marilyn Mazur gathers a 10-piece ensemble composed of female Scandinavian musicians and amazes us with 16 tremendously rhythmic numbers in her new project, Shamania. A former collaborator of Miles Davis and Jan Garbarek, Mazur alludes to instinctive, primitive rituals in a buoyant session that establishes eclecticism as a priority. The power of women in jazz is reflected here, and saxophonist Lotte Anker just confirms it through fiery exteriorizations full of timbral color on the opening and closing tunes, “New Secret” and “Space Entry Dance”, respectively.

The impeccable voice of Josefine Cronholm invites us to an Eastern litany on “Rytmeritual”, a liberating free-verse poem denoting the entrancing rhythm as a fundamental agent. Beautiful exotic sounds also emerge from “Shabalasa” and “Kalimbaprimis”, ecstatic Afro-style celebrations that bring Mazur to the center. The former piece is shaped with the balafon from Mali, while the latter is filled with the inharmonic overtones of the kalimba. The bandleader claims the spotlight once again on the purely percussive “Behind Clouds”. Other chiefly percussive rides include “Time Ritual”, methodized with human breath, and “Surrealistic Adventure”, where Sissel Vera Pettersen projects her powerful voice.

The preliminary tranquility carried out by trumpeter Hildegunn Oiseth on “Chaas”, veers to a cacophonic horn-driven eruption. The pressure is maintained even after keyboardist Makiko Hirabayashi takes the lead, and the psychedelic jazz-fusion ends like a mantra. She reactivates improvisational instincts on “Heartshaped Moon”, an exhilarating Afro-Cuban spiral that also features Sissel Vera in a quieter passage, this time on tenor saxophone.

With several traditions blurring and blending, and the horns entering and leaving the scenario, improvisation and creativity were consistently contemplated. “Fragments” is a collective effort in that sense, while the sax-percussion duet “Talk For Two”, a showcase for Mazur and Anker’s conversational facility, is bookended by the steep rhythmic accentuations in the less-than-a-minute pieces titled “Momamajobass”.

Shamania made me travel many miles through a colorful folklore that appeals to multiculturalism. It’s an important exertion that celebrates music in its entire dimension.

Grade  A-

Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:
01 – New Secret ► 02 - Rytmeritual ► 03 - Chaas