Mark    
Saxophonist/Educator


Reviews

Quotes for Blackside

"In all my years producing CDs and records, this project ranks in the top ten rewarding and creative experiences of my career, just pure joy." -John Lee

"This music is movin' and groovin' with historic elegance and euphoric relevance. I am proud to say these are the young 'Giants I Walk With'." -Jimmy Heath

Review of Riddle Of The Sphinx
By Jim Santella

What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs at night? Man.

Cue the drummer's rim shot followed by a bass drum thud. Then give the philosophical riddle a thought or two about how we begin our lives by moving cautiously, move into the fast lane for awhile, and then settle down later on with experience at our side. Along the way we hope to absorb and understand as many special impressions as we can.

Alto saxophonist Mark Gross takes us on a journey of ancient Egypt. Recorded in April 1999 the session combines a terrific rhythm section with the exciting interplay of vibraphonist Joe Locke and pianist Mulgrew Miller . Both contribute lyrical interludes that complement the saxophonist's energetic drive and enhance his impressionistic passion.

Highly recommended, Mark Gross' latest album provides a tonal picture worth much more than a thousand words.

While the thirty-something native of Baltimore, Maryland shows allegiance to John Coltrane, Cannonball & Nat Adderley, Johnny Hodges and Kenny Garrett, his distinctive tone and artistic paintbrush offer much to characterize the individual. Wayne Shorter's "Black Nile" swings hard in a straight-ahead piano trio setting colored by exotic sounds from the udu drum. The familiar jazz melody echoes from alto saxophone with world wise overtones that paint appropriate landscapes. Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's "Marabi" leaves impressions of native dancers and streetwise snake charmers, but with a calypso twist. Billy Strayhorn 's ballad "Isfahan" receives a straightforward approach, while Gross' five compositions weave ancient Egypt around modern jazz. Highly recommended, Mark Gross' latest album provides a tonal picture worth much more than a thousand words.


Review of Riddle Of The Sphinx
By Eugene Holley Jr. From Amazon.com

The African civilization of Ancient Egypt has inspired jazz artists for decades. John Coltrane, Randy Weston, Jimmy Giuffre, and Paul Horn have recorded albums and compositions about that fabled land. With this CD, alto/soprano saxophonist Mark Gross has produced a welcome addition to that esteemed list. Backed by Mulgrew Miller on piano, Joe Locke on vibraphone and marimba, Darryl Hall on bass, Brian Blade on drums, and Khalid Kwame Bell on percussion,

Gross leads a jazzy caravan to where the past meets the present.
Gross leads a jazzy caravan to where the past meets the present. Gross's "Valley of the Dry Bones" and the title track (with John LaBarbera on oud) echo Yusef Lateef and Coltrane's exotic, mid-1960s excursions. On Miller's "Eastern Joy Dance," the pianist adopts McCoy Tyner's pointillistic chord voicings, which are powered by Blade's intricate nod to Elvin Jones. Gross's heartfelt takes on Billy Strayhorn's "Isfahan," Kenny Garrett's "Lullabye of Isfahan," Cannonball Adderley's "Marabi," and Wayne Shorter's classic "Black Nile" show off his full alto and soprano sax sound. The twin peaks of the CD are the "The Red Sea," with its bewitching ostinato, and the habaneralike "The Desert Sands of Cairo." The motto of J Curve, this astounding project's record label, is "historic moments in jazz," and they have one here.


Review of Riddle Of The Sphinx
By By Robert Middleton
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspired Debut CD is near perfect, October 7, 2000
From Amazon.com

Another talented saxophonist emerges with a debut CD (U.S Release) that delights and amazes. Most solo debuts are often cautious collections of standards without a lot that challenges. Instead, Mark Gross has emerged with a concept album with Egypt as the theme. And every song is a gem. Five self-penned titles and five others - one each from from Mulgrew Miller (appearing here on piano), Wayne Shorter, Kenny Garrett, Duke Ellington (in a sublime Miller-Gross duet of Isfahan), and Cannonball Adderly.

His is a brilliant new voice in the all-too-conservative world of today's jazz.
It's a seamless, flowing dynamic whole. One begins to feel something special on the opener "Valley of the Dry Bones" with a marimba solo by Joe Locke followed by a searing, sinuous solo by Gross that ultimately blends and fades with John LaBarbara's Oud.

This is inspired stuff, ranking with Randy Weston's Spirit of our Ancestors. Recently Robert Stewart attempted an Eastern-inspired outing (The Force, 1998) with a similar sound but poor production decisions which led many of the tunes into meandering drum solos. No production mistakes here. Each tune is finely conceived and a mini-masterpiece in its own right. Each piece flows logically into the next. An album that guys will like for it's energy and inventiveness and women will relish for it's sesuousness and warmth. My choice for the best jazz CD of 2000 so far. Congratulations to Mark for a spectacular debut. His is a brilliant new voice in the all-too-conservative world of today's jazz. One can only hope he can keep the faith and vision for future projects.


Review of Riddle Of The Sphinx
By A Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Good all around, January 23, 2002
From Amazon.com

The first time I heard "Riddle of the Sphinx" on the radio, I was more than impressed. It took a while to track this cd down, but it was well worth it. Mark Gross' music is fantastic. It's the perfect thing to listen to anytime, whether looking for a boost or something to relax to.








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