Flav Martin & Jerry Marotta 2018
Spiritual excavations from artists whose sonic caress can pacify psyche by igniting fire down the spine.
From Santana to Marley and beyond, there’s been a lot of self-searching applied to Latin and Caribbean rhythms and given pop sweetness, yet it takes Jerry Marotta to spice up a memorable melody, and Flav Martin’s tunes are tasty enough to turn their debut record into a pocket carnival – profound in scope if easy on the ear. For the most part an acoustic exercise, this album doesn’t burden the listener with stylistic boundaries or high-level philosophy, though, preferring to focus on emotional workings instead, as suggested by songs such as “How Could You Leave Me Now?” and “I Knew It Was You” whose tenderness is immense and deceptively simple at the same time.
The title track may unfold softly for gentle strum and delicate percussion to wrap Martin’s questioning croon in a sympathetically throbbing cocoon, but inner flame is burning brightly behind even the overtly intimate lines here, like the ones that make “Drinking You” irresistible in spite of its deliberately dim delivery. Sometimes, still, English doesn’t seem enough to convey a message, so the expressive Italian would be welcomed into the cover of “Tell Me To My Face” where accordion is required to evoke a heated atmosphere and complement Marotta’s Taos drums, while a fresh take on “Cosa hai messo nel caffè” removes saccharine from the San Remo classic.
This album is almost a family affair, with Jerry’s old friend, bassist Tony Levin and Flav’s erstwhile six-string foil Mark Shulman joining in the fun, the four of them creating a translucent piece of poetry on “Please” which would get under the thickest of skins thanks to the quartet’s exquisite interplay. The ensemble may be languorous on the more obvious drift behind “Rio De Janeiro” yet fusion passages help it retain piquant aroma, and “Wild Moon” exudes Renaissance grace – a defining characteristic of the entire record. A perfect summery offering.