In 1975, Milton Marsh released his first album Monism for the Strata-East label. Marsh, a composer, arranger, saxophonist and flautist, recorded the album in New York City from 1973-1974. The musicians on Monism represent some of the finest living in NYC at the time: pianist Cedric Lawson, bassist Don Pate along with two rising stars at the time, David Ware on saxophone and Greg Bandy on percussion. Ironically, all of these artists would go on to record several volumes of music in their careers except for Marsh, who recorded only one additional album, 1985’s Continuum, after a decade long absence.
Marsh composed and arranged all of the album’s six compositions, each of which featured between nine and 17 players. This sizable headcount explains the album’s ability to soar from quiet, minimal moments to robust, dissonant explosions, depending upon the track.
“Vonda’s Tune”, the album’s opener, begins with a brief solitary and somber horn solo, which later opens up to the more “avant” sounds of “Community Music”. The title track is where Marsh’s compositions reach their most unpredictable and exciting moments, however. “Monism” closes out the A side with a free jazz jamboree, complete with a spoken word delivery of a Sufi poem from Marsh himself. The album’s B-side is relegated to more traditional structures, and features some of the most driving piano, drum and saxophone playing fans of the genre could hope to hear; at once loose and decidedly collaborative in its delivery.
Perhaps prompted by Marsh’s ten-year disappearance from the recording world, this long out of print recording has become a collector’s edition for those familiar with it. Original copies have been known to sell for more than $100 among collectors. Manufactured Recordings is proud to present this reissued volume again on vinyl for the first time in 40 years.