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Glad to Be Back

Mark Elf

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Album Review

The New York-based electric jazz guitarist's success over the years has shown the industry the power of the indie to overcome all usual obstacles. And then came some two much harder hits for Mark Elf to overcome — a kidney disorder in 2002 and prostate cancer in 2003. While the liner notes, song titles, and written dedications speak of his gratitude for his doctors and the support of his friends from various radio stations, the album plays joyfully like the Elf his fans have known and loved for years. Getting the collection off to a fast start, he wrote the speedy, swinging "Elfin's Pace" using the chord changes to "Giant Steps," before balancing the jubilance with a gently rhythmic, reflective take on Hoagy Carmichael's "Little Old Lady." No Elf project would be complete without a slight nod to the exotic, which he tackles here with the graceful Latin movements of "Groove for Gonzalez" (named for his doctor) and the perfectly titled "Bossa for Eric A.," which offers one of many spotlights for his quartet's brilliant pianist David Hazeltine. Musicians who understand how hard it is to pare down to the final set list will appreciate Elf's interesting inclusion of two takes (with slightly different rhythm patterns) of Rodgers & Hart's "Falling in Love With Love."


Born: 13 December 1949 in Queens, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

An excellent bop-based guitarist, Mark Elf has created a stir with his own small-group recordings. He attended Berklee (1969-1971), picked up experience playing with a who's who of modern mainstream jazz (including Wynton Marsalis, Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Benny Golson, Al Grey, Branford Marsalis, and Slide Hampton), and has recorded as a sideman with Lou Donaldson, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Wynton Marsalis, Jon Hendricks, and others. Elf spent time with Jimmy Heath's group,...
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Glad to Be Back, Mark Elf
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