In a conversation I once had with Molly Gallegos – fellow UK Vibe scribe – I once described the fact that I was the product of divorced parents, each from vastly different heritages, as something that presented its own challenges. With neither parent instilling any of their own culture and background into me from a young age, I likened the experience to feeling like a ghost in that you don’t rightfully belong to either culture despite it forming a significant part of my make-up.
I feel like if Marc Crofts felt like that then we’d potentially have a very different album than the one we have in ‘Nomadim’.
Released through Unit Records, violinist and composer, Crofts, has clearly presented a deeply personal project but one that acts as a window into how he sees the world around him. And, frankly, it seems like it’s a really nice place. Coming from mixed origins himself, so much of ‘Nomadim’ is a tribute to his family, his background, his extensive travels including to Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania, but everything about it is celebratory – you can almost see the smile beaming from his face as if he were standing in front of you while he masterfully composes these odes to his experiences and plays beautifully to honour them.
Apologies, I may very well have begun this review as it should have ended. Let’s back-track a little…
A former student of jazz studies at the Lausanne Conservatoire, Marc Crofts has embraced a wide variety of musical styles in the years since, either forming or contributing to numerous collectives including the Balkan stylings of the band Gilgul, the Yolanda Almodovar Flamenco Band, Swing High, Gypson 5ive and Hotegezugt.
For his ‘Nomadim’ project, Crofts partners with bassist Blaise Hommage and guitarist Raïlo Helmstetter for a wonderful series of embedded narratives – stories within stories – that are nicely teased within the album’s inlay card. ‘Portakali’ for instance works as a great allegory when dissecting the nature of mixed backgrounds and how seemingly disparate elements can still find their interconnecting links. ‘Eastern Road Trip’ delivers as one of the strong album highlights – through its changing pace and tone, it’s as if the intention was to capture the complete range of emotions one would experience across an extensive road trip and brilliantly cram them into the song’s six-minute running time. A final mention would have to go to the lush performance put forward for ‘Our Secret Room’ – the unmistakable love letter of the whole album, it’s beautifully put together and another in the album’s long list of highlights.
While a perspective of a nomadic culture or lifestyle may seem somewhat lonely, it’s actually something – certainly within his music at least – that Crofts fully embraces. He’s captured the freedom in it and it’s an inspiring and life-affirming perspective.
25/6 – Nomadim Feat. Marcel Loeffler – Chorus Jazz Club – LAUSANNE : Album launch / Vernissage
26/6 – Nomadim Feat. Marcel Loeffler – Auberge des Vergers – GENEVA
27/7 – Nomadim Feat. Marcel Loeffler – KVO – NEUCHÀTEL
02/7 – Nomadim Feat. Marcel Loeffler – Chapelle St Erhard – STRASBOURG : Also streaming
03/7 – Nomadim – Auberge du Moenkalb – BARR
09/7 – Nomadim – Literaturcafé – BIEL
10/8 – Nomadim Feat. Marcel Loeffler – Festival Au Gré du Jazz – CHATEAU DE LICHTENBERG