Album Review: “Fernweh” by Marbin

Chicago band Marbin has a great reputation for eclecticism. Whether they’re playing fusion rock or Israeli-jazz, they have made a name for themselves as a bold and adventurous group of musicians. Their latest record, Fernweh, is a perfect encapsulation of this adventurous spirit, as they depart from more conventional jazz/rock sounds and plunge headfirst into a collection of standards, played entirely in the jazz manouche style popularized by legendary Belgian guitarist Django Reinhardt.

Fernweh, the title of the album, refers to a German word that describes a “homesickness for somewhere you’ve never been”. The title is quite apt when one considers that many of these songs were written in the early part of the 20th century, and the standards on this album are from all over the world. It’s easy to turn this album on and let it transport you to a Parisian jazz club in the 50s or a streetside in New Orleans. Each song paints a different portrait, from the upbeat swing of “All of Me” to the cheerful, bouncy “Georgia on my Mind”, to the tender and sensual “Nuages”.

As I listened to this diverse collection, the one constant was a smile on my face. These songs are joyful and celebratory, and capture the energy and excitement and spirit of these classics so well. The masterful work from guitarist Dani Rabin, saxophonist Danny Markovitch, and bassist Jon Nadel stands as a worthy tribute to Louis Armstrong, Django Reinhardt, Hoagy Carmichael, and the others they cover and honor with this record, and you can feel the reverence that they have for these standards as they play.

I know Marbin fans have been hoping for an album like this for many years, and I think the final result is a fantastic collection of performances that both modernize and honor the original compositions. In life and in music, I’ve learned to expect the unexpected, and Marbin’s new album is one I knew I’d like, but didn’t expect to like this much. Fernweh is a whimsical journey through time and space that will surely leave you smiling too.

Fernweh will be released on July 2, 2021. Pre-order it on their Bandcamp page.

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