Release date: November 13, 2020
Label: Outside in Music


NYC-based trombonist and bandleader Mariel Bildsten delivers her debut album, Backbone in the revered company of Stacy Dillard (saxophones), Sean Mason (piano), Ben Wolfe (bass) and Evan Sherman (drums, co-producer) as well as guest percussionist Keisel Jimenez. Backbone presents Bildsten's unique interpretations of classic gems, each of which she has discovered throughout her years of playing and living within the New York City jazz circuit. Comprising inventive and dynamic rearrangements of compositions from the likes of Horace Silver, Kenny Dorham, Duke Ellington, Peter De Rose and Bert Shefter, Backbone chronicles the sheer range of musical influences that Mariel Bildsten uncompromisingly embodies as a leading jazz contemporary.


Horace Silver’s “Ecaroh” boisterously kicks off proceedings. Featuring solos from Bildsten on trombone, Stacy Dillard on soprano saxophone and Sean Mason on piano, the opening track emanates spontaneity and swing. The track’s intro and outro sections were derived from the legendary pianist’s original solo. A stand-out track from the album is “Rosita”, originally written for the 1923 Ernst Lubitsch-directed silent film of the same name. Although composed by Paul Dupont, with lyrics by Allan Stuart, it was the 1959 take by Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster that first captured Bildsten’s attention. Rosita, the film, tells the dramatic story of a Spanish street performer named Rosita (played by Mary Pickford), who writes songs in which she insults the king. In the process of chastising her, the king falls in love with Rosita and, feeling threatened, arrests and attempts to execute her lover. The film reveals a complicated love triangle between peasant woman, king, and lover. Inspired by the tale’s telling of the king’s seduction upon Rosita’s first visit to the castle, Mariel Bildsten treats listeners to a sultry bolero, featuring Stacy Dillard on tenor saxophone. 


Backbone draws to a close with “The Lamp is Low,” originally written by Peter DeRose and Bert Shefter. Paying homage to the fact that this composition was adapted from Maurice Ravel’s “Pavane,” the trombonist and bandleader wrote an intro section, based on Ravel’s melody. Featuring Cuban percussionist Keisel Jimenez on conga and guiro, this Latin rearrangement leaves listeners uplifted and cheerful. It’s worth noting too, that Mariel first heard this composition in a typical late-night NYC setting - a performance by the late, great Roy Hargrove at Small’s Jazz Club on a Tuesday morning at 3am. This closing track serves as an apropo nod to the city that continues to inspire and influence this up-and-coming bandleader.


Following a week-long run at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in New York City, Backbone was recorded in just one night at Sear Sound Studios, NYC in January 2019. Throughout the recording sessions, Bildsten strived to showcase and illuminate the individuality, courage, strength and uncompromising character of this band - in other words, its backbone. From Stacy Dillard’s playfulness and creativity and Sean Mason’s originality and soulfulness to Evan Sherman’s daring spirit and Ben Wolfe’s inventiveness, this ensemble collectively displays a tenacious and exuberant spirit. In delivering this music, Mariel Bildsten hopes to set the scene for fans to live, dance, and romance. The trombonist, who is inspired by the likes of J.J. Johnson, Curtis Fuller, and Lawrence Brown, elaborates: “I’m imagining taking the subway and bopping my head to ‘Ecaroh,’ ‘The Man Who Got Away,’ and ‘Monaco,’ unwinding after a long day with someone I love to ‘Mood Indigo’ and ‘Rosita,’ and throwing open the windows on a bright sunny day and dancing to ‘The Lamp is Low.’

More about the artist:

Mariel Bildsten is a trombonist, based in New York City. She currently works as a bandleader and side-woman, playing in jazz big bands and small groups, as well as Afro-Latin music, rock, funk, and R&B bands. She is the lead trombonist in Arturo O'Farrill's Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra and tours internationally with the rock band Brass Against. She has performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Radio City, London’s O2 Arena, Birdland Jazz Club, the Apollo Theater, the Chicago Jazz Festival, Perth International Arts Festival, Caramoor Jazz Festival, Smalls Jazz Club, and Smoke Jazz Club, among other venues. Mariel has also performed alongside Dee Dee Bridgewater, Roy Hargrove, Wycliffe Gordon, Brian Lynch, Cyrus Chestnut, Lew Soloff, and Frank Lacy. Her own groups, ranging from duo to septet, have headlined jazz festivals, played around the USA, and gig regularly in New York City.

Track listing:

  1. Ecaroh (Horace Silver) 5:44
  2. The Man That Got Away (Harold Arlen) 4:23
  3. Rosita (Paul Dupont, Allan Stuart) 5:48
  4. Monaco (Kenny Dorham) 4:51
  5. Mood Indigo (Duke Ellington, Barney Bigard) 4:28
  6. The Lamp is Low (Peter DeRose, Bert Shefter) 3:54

Catalog: OiM 2044


"Backbone – streaming at Bandcamp – is a straight-up, swinging, purist mix of tunes from across the ages. Bildstein maintains a remarkable focus and doesn’t waste notes." Read this review here. 


Trombonist Mariel Bildsten began developing ideas for her debut album in 2019, aiming to reflect different dimensions of her artistry, particularly her skills as an arranger. “I’m not super interested in just playing tunes for the tune’s sake,” said Bildsten, referencing the impetus for crafting Backbone (Outside In). Read more here. 


"This ensemble collectively displays an exuberant spirit, whether it be swing, dance or romance. Hopefully, this is just the start." Read more here. 


Mariel Bildsten has honed her craft for years within a wide range of styles and settings, including as lead trombonist in Arturo O’Farrill’s acclaimed Afro-Jazz Orchestra. Backbone displays her exceptional talents as arranger and bandleader, as well as her admiration for the jazz tradition, through fine arrangements of handpicked classics and lesser-known gems. Its mix of elegance and excitement recalls the likes of Duke Ellington, which is quite impressive, given that Backbone was recorded in one night only. Read more here.

"Backbone is an impressive statement of arrival for a musician who has been honing her craft and vision for a decade-plus." Read the full feature here

New releases. Read full article here

"The only thing missing is more of the same." Read more here. 


"A strong start towards bigger and better things." Read more here. 


"Backbone is a mighty powerful set, full of excitement, emotional impact and virtuosity." Read the review here.