New artists tend to play it safe, adopting one commercial format or another, and trying to make it work. However, Samir Zarif doesn’t subscribe to that notion. Starting Point (Mythology Records, 2011), his debut as a leader, doesn’t conform to any prescribed formula.
Zarif, a native of Houston, Texas, plays soprano and tenor saxophones and electronics. He is accompanied by Zack Lober on acoustic and electric bass, Colin Stranahan on drums and percussion, Greg Ritchie on drums, Maria Neckam on vocals and Lars Dietrich on alto sax.
“Circle of Truth” begins ominously with the saxophones toning up over a subtle bass and percussive soundscape. Neckam lends her ethereal voice, adding to the song’s haunting quality. The song doesn’t have a melody to speak of. It’s more like an audible abstract painting, with the bass, drums and vocals as background colors to the centerpiece of Zarif’s tenor sax.