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Marc Cary has spent close to a decade honing a distinctive sound and improvisational approach with his enduring and much acclaimed Focus Trio. Four Directions, the band's first studio recording in eight years, follows on the heels of two powerful interim releases (Focus Trio Live 2008 and Focus Trio Live 2009). Despite a few shifts in the bass chair, and an ever-transforming array of acoustic and electronic instrumentation, the band's original mission, as Cary stated in his liner notes for Focus, the band's 2006 debut, remains the same: "to bring indigenous rhythms together with American jazz to create new palettes of sound."
Born in New York in January 1967, Cary grew up in DC and went on to become an important figure in the city's burgeoning go-go scene. He attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and upon relocating to New York in 1988, began his rise as a jazz piano modernist. In 1994 he began a life-changing 12-year tenure with vocalist, songwriter and jazz icon Abbey Lincoln. (For the Love of Abbey, Cary's spellbinding solo piano tribute to Lincoln, came out in May of 2013 on Motéma.)
In addition to Lincoln, Cary has worked with such masters as Arthur Taylor, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach and Shirley Horn. His talent has elevated the music of everyone from Russell Gunn and Marcus Printup to Q-Tip, Meshell Ndegeocello and Ani DiFranco and as a recording artist his ensemble work has helped earn GRAMMY® Award-nominations for albums by Abbey Lincoln, Betty Carter, Roy Hargrove and Stefon Harris.
Cary debuted on the Arabesque label as a leader in 1995 with Cary On. Then at the turn of the century, his electronica odyssey, Rhodes Ahead (Vol. 1) won him the first annual Billboard/BET "Best New Jazz Artist" award in 2000. Cary debuted his fledgling Focus Trio project on the Motéma label in 2006, with an eponymous release which received major critical and public acclaim that led to increased international touring and a multi-record commitment from Motéma.
In addition to his long-standing Focus Trio, Cary also has toured and recorded regularly with his band Indigenous People since 1999. Cary's 'Indigenous' project specifically mines the rich musical history of indigenous cultures around the world with a special focus on music of the African diaspora - from African folk melodies, Brazilian and Caribbean grooves to jazz, funk and go-go rhythms. Indigenous People has documented its sound on the albums Captured Live in Brazil (1999), Unite (2001) and N.G.G.R. Please (2003). Cary has now rebilled the group as "Cosmic Indigenous" and has a forthcoming Motéma release in the works. Meanwhile, he continues to work steadily as a producer and collaborator on recorded and live projects in the jazz, hip-hop, R&B and dance arenas.
"The things that have kept the Focus Trio concentrated are basic principles of openness and intent to play like it is our last chance, every time," notes Cary. "And we keep having these incredible discoveries, which happen mostly on the bandstand. There's a great understanding of our love for the music and what we're seeking."