A good musician's work is evident almost immediately. You can tell in their technique, their innovation, but most importantly, their respect for their craft. However, a great musician can sometimes be harder to pin. They will have the same attributes as the good musician with one important addition. Subtlety. Often times a musician, especially in the classical field, will dominate a piece with their skill and mastery, yet, the piece itself feels empty. Domination, while impressive, is not what I want to hear as a listener. Inhabitance. That's the key, expose yourself within the piece while always supporting it. Make the music BETTER by complimenting it, dominate when you are called to, take a back seat when you are called to. This is what makes Martin's Roots album such a joy. There are stretches of minutes when he lets the music just play, sans his clarinet, following it's movement, waiting, then slowly sliding back in. I realize that he is doing just what the music calls for but at the same time it's the music he chose. He's not playing here to show off, though he does do quite a bit of that, he's playing to give life to the music he loves!
Tackling a slew of amazing composers from all over the world, he somehow still creates a connection and flow between the works, nothing feeling out of place. His skill is constantly being tested, which is part of the fun. The chance to see this entire album live would be an absolute wonder. My biggest compliments go out to the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra for their aid to Martin and their brilliant play here as well. Both Martin and the orchestra rely on each other heavily and it would not have been half the album it is if either of them faltered. The end result is beautiful, fun, consuming, and eclectic. Listen all the way through, I demand it!