Many bands sound like little more than the sum of their influences. Other bands take those influences, add their own voices to the mix, and take the music to the next level. Marbin is very much the latter.
The fusion quartet brings a dynamic mix of jazz, rock, and the blues — among other things — to its fiery performances, both live and in the studio. If asked to describe Marbin’s sound in a single word, that word might be “relentless.”
The band is the brainchild of saxophonist Danny Markovitch and guitarist Dani Rabin, and derives its name from the first and second half of each last name, respectively. The two grew up in Israel, and the sound of that region is evident in the band’s music. But there is much more in play.
The greats of jazz and blues can also be heard. Rabin plays with the fire and tangy tone of blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan as well as the speed and dexterity of Al DiMeola and Steve Vai. Markovitch plays with the fire of Charlie Parker while invoking the single-note lines of John Coltrane or Wayne Shorter. Their sound comes together to form a fiery brand of fusion not necessarily for the musically faint of heart.
“We have the (music) world we draw from, like my jazz guys,” Rabin says when talking about guitarists like SRV, Jeff Beck, and Django Reinhardt. “And then we have my listening (for pleasure) guys. I really like songwriters. I love listening to Johnny Cash, Kris Kristopherson, and Leonard Cohen.” The band has no problem wearing its influences on its sleeve. When Rabin mentions Parker, Louis Armstrong, and Coltrane, he says casually, “I wasn’t really digging to find the secret genius nobody found out about. I always assumed there was no talent hiding in the bushes.”
Marbin’s songwriting approach is quite direct. “When you’re composing, the best M.O. is just try to write a good song, whatever that means at the moment,” Rabin said. “And trust that whatever made it into your musical personality is there. All anyone can do is sit in a room with an instrument and maybe a piece of paper and a question to themselves: What’s the best I can do right now? Whatever you put down is proof of exactly that.”
That being said, Rabin prefers his band compositions start with a melody. “I think fusion has a disease of riff writing and groove writing,” he said. “A lot of people have an idea for a groove they want to play, and they’ll write a melody that fits it. It’s very obvious to my ear when that’s the case. I like songs to emerge from melody.”
The band has been able to build a solid following, thanks in part to social media. “Facebook has been the platform that (brought them the most success),” Rabin said. “We’ve had a few of our videos go viral, and that had been a game changer. But we’ve been touring the entire time. And to be fair, touring is the only thing that makes the difference. You got to tour! The dream of making it on streams and (mouse) clicks is just that: a dream.”
Marbin represents the first generation of bands emerging from the modern music industry business method, which means small or no traditional record deals and no “old school” royalty payouts. “We were very lucky that we started after the collapse of everything (in the industry),” Rabin said, “So we never had a taste of the good life. We were always in this place where touring was the center of it.” The band also does a brisk business at the merchandise table after shows. “We’ve sold CDs to fans that don’t have CD players, because they understand the importance,” Rabin laughs.
A close examination of Marbin’s videos reveals an interesting constant: while the band’s melody makers are always there, the bass/drums rhythm section frequently changes. Rabin sees this as a musical necessity, albeit in a tongue-in-cheek way. “Our rhythm sections are like underwear,” Rabin says with a hysterical laugh. “Their function is to keep dickheads in place. But once they become shitty, it’s time to get a new pair!” He does go to say that the current rhythm section of Jon Nadel (bass) and Everette Benton, Jr. (drums) is the best the band has had so far.
The band has just wrapped up a tour in support of their latest album, Israeli Jazz. After a short break, they will begin work on their next album, Strong Thing.
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