It's too bad Third Set's liner doesn't carry the Pearl S. Buck quote used in the promo lit to epigrammatize the disc: "The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible—and achieve it, generation after generation" because dear ol' Pearl nailed it in regard to Marbin. Just the opening cut, Special Olympics, with its unbelievably scorching guitar work from Dani Rabin and highly peripatetic sax from Danny Markovitch, works fiercely on Pearl's 'impossibility' element. Hellfire, Jeeter, human beings are not supposed to play guitar like that! Fingers and brain cannot correlate to accomplish it, and yet they do. Hoo-eee! More, this is a live disc. Let me repeat that: this is a LIVE disc! Unreal.
The best term for Rabin is 'furious', and I had to hark back to the old John Abercrombie / Mark Cohen days, in the almost unknown Friends band, to think of something that pyrotechnic and sizzling in the format. I mean, how often do guitar and sax duet and trade off solos above a rhythm section like this? X-Legged Sally also came to mind along with other post-Isotope era gigs. Of course, in the Friends band, Cohen had to patch into distortion in order to meet Abercrombie half way, but Markovitch doesn't do that, stays on the jazzier side of the house, more like Mel Collins with King Crimson but without the Rollins adjunct.
More than once, in cuts like The Depot, I was also reminded of Mike Landau's delicious dirty work (especially catch his Live twofer to see what I mean) and it's freed-up parameters within set format, though Marbin is a good deal more exploratory than Landau will ever be. Nonetheless, one hears that 'chewing thru tough old leather to get to the other side' in Rabin frequently, like his fingers are boring though a fretboard about to catch on fire. Nor was I too surprised when Rabak exposed Frank Marino qualities in the guy as Markovitch played John Klemmery beside him. Ol' Frank is still dismayingly overlooked, one of the most melodic heavy players ever in rock and roll, and Dani's comping of Marino's style allows Markovitch to dig ever more deeply into his horn…then the guitar switches over to interpolate Alan Holdsworth as the song wends through its gratifyingly long 8-1/2 minutes.
There's a tad more to that, though, in case my words haven't quite encapsulated the level of chops here. That Holdsworth guy I just cited? The gent every intelligent guitar player on the face of the Earth holds in awe? Well, Marbin was tagged to open for his latest tour. Need I say more?
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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