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Straight No Chaser - A Jazz Show

Straight No Chaser is the place for jazz lovers (and those who will soon be jazz lovers) to enjoy podcasts with their favorite music and artists. Winner of the 2017 JazzTimes Readers' Poll for Best Podcast, your host Jeffrey Siegel will take you inside the world of jazz, from the new releases to the best festiva;s to remembrances of jazz legends.

Pay Some Attention to “Man Behind the Curtain”

Oct 19, 2009

Sidemen sometimes just don’t get their due. Plenty of the best jazz musicians in the world are constantly in demand by headliners for their recording sessions or concert tours, but to the average jazz fan, they labor in relative obscurity.  Luckily, every once in a while they get that chance to step out and draw some attention to themselves. Case in point – Mark Soskin, who shines on his latest release as a bandleader, the aptly entitled Man Behind the Curtain.

His list of credits as a sideman reads like a who’s who of jazz from the last forty years – Sonny Rollins, Joe Henderson, Randy Brecker, Billy Cobham, Stanley Turrentine, Herbie Mann, John Abercrombie, and Gato Barbieri, just to name a handful. Soskin has a strong feel for Latin Jazz, having been an integral part of Azteca, a group in which Soskin's keyboard, writing, and arranging talents were showcased, and trumpeter Tom Harrell and percussionists Pete and Sheila Escovedo was the core. 

Soskin has spent 14 years with Sonny Rollins, and still found time to release seven CDs as a leader. The new CD is a top notch quartet session, featuring Ravi Coltrane on tenor and soprano sax, Siskin on piano, Jay Anderson on bass and Bill Stewart don drums. Five covers, including classics like “Heather On the Hill”, vie with three Soskin originals for the listener’s attention. All are exceptional performances. 


Click here to listen to “Little One”, the Soskin composition that ends the CD. His piano languidly begins over slow cymbals from Stewart, leading to a give and take between the two musicians. Coltrane enters a minute later, playing a gentle melody that is accented by the rhythm section with subtle but definite flourishes. Slowly Coltrane’s sax begins exploring new ground, and then Stewart’s cymbals signal a solo for Soskin, a greater part for bassist Anderson, and then a group resolution. All in all, a lovely ending to a notable album.