The Bowie Project
Marinaro's voice, sometimes brash, sometimes tender, fuses a saxophone's fluidity and a trumpet's brassy edge, in a lineage that goes back to Sinatra and Bennett. He sings with a bassist's sure sense of time. He phrases in ways that serve the melodic line as well as the words within: an interpretative nuance can speak whole sagas. What's more, Marinaro qualifies as a true musician, more than "just a singer"; in the words of the octet's co-founder John Kornegay, "He understands his place in the totality" of each arrangement. Marinaro hears himself as another part of this verdant octet, rather than the centerpiece out front.
Having recently pondered the ways in which Bowie’s music related to jazz, it was a pleasure to receive this CD to review. Immediately, you are struck by the mixture of songs that the octet has chosen. There are, of course, well known tunes such as ‘Changes’ (track 3), ‘Let’s dance’ (track 6), ‘Life on Mars’ (track 11), but also a host of tracks from albums across Bowie’s career. This suggests to me that this is clearly a project developed by people with a deep knowledge and love of Bowie’s music.
The Bowie Project...feature Marinaro’s exquisite voice and emotional interpretations within sumptuous arrangements that lift Bowie’s music out of its historical context and offer new ways to understand its relevance.
...Marinaro’s dedication to dignified, timely art and Gailloreto’s impeccable leadership, this land breaking effort could very well be one of the post-pandemic’s finer achievements.
...the Metropolitan Jazz Octet's The Bowie Project, addresses Bowie from a mainstream jazz perspective. ...Marinaro sings with effortless grace, tackling Bowie's often challenging harmonics. Marinaro's voice is both muscular and gentle, capable of creating nuanced shading where necessary.
David Bowie's time has come as a cultural deliverer and Paul Marinaro and the Metropolitan Jazz Octet are the artistic visionaries to bring this project to reality.
It could very well be, that like Joni Mitchell, David Bowie could be the source of material for jazz artists, if this recent album by the Metropolitan Jazz Octet is any evidence. The woodwind team of John Kornegay, Jim Gailloreto and Peter Brusen, along with Doug Scharf/tp-fh and Russ Phillips, mix with pianists Bob Sutter-Ben Lewis, vibist Mike Freeman, bassist Doug Bistrow and drummer Bob Rummage to support the rich and Kurt Ellingish voice/delivery of Paul Marinaro.
Vocalist Paul Marinaro soars passionately over each song, without coming even close to trying to imitate Bowie. That freedom of expression is a big part of what makes the album as good as it is. The setlist also helps, as the band doesn’t go for the obvious, even as they take on a few is the greatest hits. Including “Space Oddity” might seem obvious, but the more recent “I Would Be Your Slave” is a surprising and welcome addition. This is tribute done with love, respect, and unique expression. A quality listen.