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Marcus Strickland's music for the future of the planet

Marcus Strickland
Petra Richterova
Marcus Strickland

For saxophonist Marcus Strickland the pandemic awakened a sense of urgency about climate change and humankind’s relationship to planet Earth. 

At his concert at the Blue Note earlier this week Strickland seemed delighted to be in New York and reminded the audience that he had lived here for years before moving back to his hometown of Miami to teach at Frost University. 

He said, “Right before I moved back I experienced a little thing called The Pandemic. I had a lot of time to think.”

So what does a Grammy nominated jazz musician who has played with everyone from McCoy Tyner to Mos Def think about when he has some extra pandemic time on his hands? 

He told us it was “Planet Earth. We have life on this planet. It’s a miracle. [....] It’s important to sustain what we have here. ” 

That thinking is reflected in Strickland’s new album The Universe’s Wildest Dream which came out January 13 on his own Strick Muzik label. At the Blue Note, along with his regular working band Twi Life featuring Mitch Henry on organ, Kyle Miles on bass and Charles Haynes on drums, Strickland explained why it’s so important for him to rely on this working band. 

“This is the squad. I love them,” he said. “I didn’t feel like an alien when I told them my ideas. Because they’re aliens too!”

Marcus Strickland’s music casts a wide emotional net; beneath the muscular exterior there’s a softness and a sweetness. Plus it grooves! One would have been hard pressed not to sway and move to the Twi Life show. But behind the music is a serious message of love but real concern for the future of our planet. And although the band was on fire, he’s concerned about how to keep the temperature under control. 

“Let’s bring down this planet’s temperature by two degrees [...] let’s see what we can do to make sure that this planet keeps on doing the miraculous thing that it keeps on doing! ” he exclaimed. 

Marcus Strickland will continue doing the miraculous thing that he’s doing. You can listen to his latest release The Universe’s Wildest Dream wherever you like to listen to music, and catch him on the road all spring with Christian McBride’s New Jawn.

Leo Sidran is a Grammy winning multi-instrumentalist musician, producer, arranger, composer, recording artist and podcast host based in Brooklyn, New York.