Saxophonist Marcus Strickland is back with the premiere of “Alive,” ahead of his March 16th SXSW debut at The Elephant Room. Featuring Jean Baylor on vocals, “Alive” also showcases the talents of BigYuki behind the keys, drummer extraordinaire Charles Haynes, and trumpeter Keyon Harrold.
Our readers will recall that Nihil Novi was released back in April 2016 and was produced by artistic visionary Meshell Ndegeocello (who also rocks on “Alive”) as well as the legendary Bob Power who jumped behind the console to make sure every frequency lived in their proper place.
Rocking with the steadiest of backbeats, “Alive” also serves as a canvas to showcase Strickland’s knack for colorful textures and tasteful horn arrangements. Opening with a hypnotic horn figure from the bass clarinet, tenor horn, and trumpet, “Alive” smoothly shifts into high gear with the introduction of the sizzle from Haynes’ hi-hat placed right above Ndegecello’s head-knocking bassline. All of this works up to lead us to the moment Jean Baylor blesses the track with mesmerizing vocal styling.
When asked about Jean Baylor’s involvement in “Alive” and how the song came to get its title, Marcus Strickland had this to say:
When Jean Baylor began writing the lyrics to the song, she asked me why I titled the song “Being.” It is about being in the moment and realizing exactly what’s great about the now. She started writing and came up with the word “alive.” Sometimes you feel down or you get discouraged, but then you realize that you are still alive. That you can do something to change your outcome. That’s kind of the gist of the song.
Directed by filmmaker Eric Minari, the video for “Alive” translates Strickland’s vision for the song and speaks of the resilience of the human spirit. Starting off in the evening, the video transitions into daytime when Baylor emerges with the sun in a transformative moment that sparks up the band.
“What began as a seed in my mind was ultimately nurtured by all of these other people and allowed to grow into something monstrous that I could not have done by myself,” Strickland shares. “I really enjoy collaborating with people and combining their strengths with mine to make something bigger than all of us. That’s what the record was about. Twi-Life is about making something that reflects a community rather than one person’s ideology.”
Watch the video below. If you like what you’re hearing, then be sure to cop Nihil Novi on iTunes.
Marcus Strickland is slated to perform at SXSW on March 16 at the Elephant Room. For more information about Strickland’s forthcoming performance, click here.