Marbin: Fernweh

There's a lot of fun in Marbin's latest departure, this time into liberal - and spirited - readings of jazz manouche


Marbin like to ring the changes. On Russian Dolls, saxophonist Danny Markovitch and guitarist Dani Rabin became a trio with Antonio Sanchez on drums and leapt away from their customary jazz-rock repertoire. Now, for their new release, they’re a trio with bassist Jon Nadel and have diversified even further by producing a brilliant acoustic gypsy-swing album with a focus on jazz standards.

Fernweh is their 12th release – the title is German for wanderlust. There are no original numbers this time but instead 10 standards arranged and played like you’ve never heard before. As Rabin puts it, the band is faithful to the spirit of the songs but at the same time they push the boundaries of how the music was originally played.

The trio’s slow, sensual rendition of Reinhardt’s Nuages and toe-tapping take on Minor Swing sit shoulder to shoulder with gypsy-jazzed versions of standards such as I’ll See You In My Dreams and Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust. All Of Me is upbeat and lively while Dark Eyes, taken at full-tilt by Markovitch’s spritely soprano, sounds as if Rabin is playing three guitars at once. Georgia On My Mind is bright and bouncy, Fats Waller’s Honeysuckle Rose fizzes, Confessin’, popularised by Louis Armstrong, is positively swinging and Swing Gitane is urgent, quick-fire and nimble.

The quality of the arrangements and flawlessness of performance here are impressive – the versatility of these talented musicians seems unbounded. Their new album is a delight and certainly gets my vote as best release of the summer.

All Of Me; Stardust; Dark Eyes; Georgia On My Mind; Minor Swing; Nuages; Honeysuckle Rose; I’ll See You In My Dreams; Confessin’; Swing Gitane (42.19)
Dani Rabin (g); Danny Markovitch (ss, as); Jon Nadel (b). Chicago, 2021.