Reviews that mention Marty Ehrlich

April 28, 2021

The Warriors of the Wonderful Sound Expanded Ensemble

Clean Feed CF 556 CD

Chris Pattishall

Zodiac Suite

No label No #

Extending the breadth of Jazz history these ensembles move past salutes to expected improvised music figures to present programs honoring two deceased composer/arranger/pianists involved in musical transition during distinct eras. Led by New York-based pianist Chris Pattishall, Zodiac Suite is a reconfiguration and amplification to sextet, of Mary Lou Williams’ (1910-1981) 12-part program originally recorded solo and by her trio. Antithetical, and not just because The Warriors of the Wonderful Sound is a 17-piece Philadelphia-based big band directed by alto saxophonist Bobby Zankel. Soundpath is the premier recording of a suite it commissioned from AACM founder Muhal Richard Abrams (1930-2017), first performed in 2012 with the composer at rehearsals. MORE

July 19, 2019

Mark Dresser Seven

Ain’t Nothing But a Cyber Coup & You
Clean Feed CF 510 CD

Refining his compositional and improvising dexterity with a series of affectionate or acerbic compositions is veteran bassist Mark Dresser, whose adept septet is able to being out every nuance of Dresser’s creations. Furthermore the 11 accomplished creations confirm that his years as music professor at University of California, San Diego haven’t blunted the talent that initially made him a valuable contributor to notable projects of Anthony Braxton and John Zorn.

Consisting of mostly West Coast and academic associates, the ensemble is nearly faultless in performance as well. Its’ make up encompasses established improvisers like clarinetist/saxophonist Marty Ehrlich, flutist Nicole Mitchell and percussionist Jim Black as well as slightly younger stylists such as trombonist Michael Dessen, violinist Keir GoGwilt and pianist Joshua White. Other uncommon features of Ain’t Nothing But a Cyber Coup & You are six brief intermezzos played unaccompanied by Dresser on McLagan Tines, seven graduated steel rods with articulations midway between double bass resonation and metallic whistling. MORE

September 1, 2018

Jason Robinson’s Janus Ensemble:

Resonant Geographies
pfMentum PFMCD 115

Using all the sonic colors available from an 11-piece ensemble, San Diego-based tenor saxophonist Jason Robinson has composed a seven-part suite that articulates straightforward swing without sacrificing exploratory touches. While recruiting some exceptional talent, Robinson’s writing emphases its uniqueness with a non-expected orchestration that includes three low-brass players, four reeds divided between saxophone and clarinets, two percussionists. plus double bass and guitar. While the expansive arrangements are sometimes enlarged enough to reflect Stan Kenton orchestra at its most restrained, the bedrock riffs and rhythms relate back to more subtle organization of the pre-war Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington bands. MORE

July 11, 2014

Diane Moser Quintet

Music for the Last Flower
Planet Arts Recordings 301325

By Ken Waxman

Almost flawlessly composed and performed, Music for the Last Flower is unjustly unknown program music, composed in 2003, which receives its long overdue recording debut. An eight-part suite inspired by James Thurber’s 1939 book, the nuanced performance highlights the similarly unjustly under-praised writing and playing skills of New Jersey-based pianist Diane Moser, an educator and music director of the Composers Big Band.

Structuring her anti-war musical fable so that the brutal noises of combat and bucolic intimations of love, peace and flowers are present, Moser never overplays the programmatic concept, ensuring that the suite makes its point through hearty helping of advanced, swinging jazz. Following a cacophonous free-for-all introduction, the dynamic theme with echoes of Sun Ra’s more restrained arrangements, is first exposed and reappears in diverse guises throughout the suite. Most impressive throughout is the invigorating work of fleet trombonist Ben Williams, another Jerseyite. On the moving “…love is reborn…” for instance when a polyphonic theme variation arrives, it’s the trombonist’s balanced tongue flutters that incites a staccato response, that soon includes sharp boppish lines from Marty Ehrlich’s alto saxophone. Meanwhile the rhythmic connections bubble underneath via Moser, bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Gerry Hemingway. Later plunger lowing from the trombone joins kinetic piano lines to attain a descriptive climax. MORE

March 23, 2014

Marty Ehrlich Large Ensemble

A Trumpet in the Morning
New World Records 80752-2

Given a rare opportunity to show off his composing and arranging skills in a big band context, multi-reedist Marty Ehrlich accepts the challenge here. But in re-casting material for more than a dozen musicians he demonstrates the superiority of some of his compositions over others. It’s not that there’s any second-rate music here. But the tunes composed for college and high school ensembles maintain their academic and pedagogical roots. They’re pleasing yet simplistic performances without the depth and compositional sophistication of the other material. MORE

December 17, 2009

Hans Tammen Third Eye Orchestra

Live At Roulette
Innova 225

Expanding his electro-acoustic expertise to a creation for large ensemble, on this CD German-born, New York-based endangered guitarist Han Tammen presents two mesmerizing suites from his 13-piece Third Eye Orchestra.

Apparently unfazed by the superstition about 13, Tammen doesn’t perform, but instead conducts and arranges in real time. Likewise ignoring the superstitious angle, some of Manhattan’s most accomplished and innovative musicians – and one ringer – handle with aplomb Tammen’s creation which calls for equal facility with improvisation and notated music, acoustic instrumental techniques and familiarity with electronic excursions. Although billed as two, six-part versions of the same piece – “Antecedent” and “Consequence” – it’s a tribute to all concerned that neither version mirrors the other. While the separately titled tracks exhibit certain homogeneity, soloists never eschew individuality even while blending with the others in section work or contrasting passages. MORE

January 30, 2006


News On The Rail
Palmetto Records PM 2113

What reedist Marty Ehrlich seems to envision for this well-balanced sextet become particularly clear when you analyze the title track. Toting up the modus operandi you note that the instrumentation – one reed, one brass, piano, bass and drums, and the sixth man doubling brass or reeds – plus the understated harmonic voicing and unforced swing – calls up memories of the sophisticated composers and combos of the 1950s which negotiated a middle ground between the effeteness of the Cool School and the weightiness of Hard Bop. MORE

December 22, 2003


Line on Love
Palmetto PM 2095

Don’t be put off by the title of this fine CD. Despite similar curly hair and use of saxophone, multi-reedman Marty Ehrlich hasn’t suddenly turned into Kenny G.

Instead he uses the almost 54 minutes of the session to prove that you can perform understated, mellifluous music without insulting anyone’s intelligence. The eight selections score because he and his rhythm section bring the same guts and techniques they would to an out-and-out free blow or technical experiment as they do to these more restrained ditties. MORE

July 28, 2003


Winter & Winter W&W 910 082-2

Palmetto PM 2091

Fans who complain that improvised music is too cerebral and not concerned enough with rhythm should hear these sessions led by drummers usually confined to the avant-garde side of the spectrum.

Although both are literal dance parties -- in the 1950s definition of the term -- each is different as well. ASTEREOTYPICAL shows what happens when you give three American and one Icelandic musicians license to create a sound animated by the traditional music of Eastern Europe, especially the Balkans. Conversely, COUNTERCLOCKWISE, featuring five Americans of a slightly earlier vintage than the dewy-cheeked Pachora crew, plays improv informed by the sort of R&B licks leader Bobby Previte probably heard growing up in Niagara Falls, N.Y. in the 1960s. MORE

February 8, 2002


Just Add Water
Palmetto PM 2081

For years the definition of the so-called “downtown New York” drummer, Bobby Previte has never stopped moving for long. He has mixed it up with everyone from saxophonist John Zorn to guitarist Elliott Sharp, helmed a variety of bands with ever more bizarre names, scored indie films, appeared as an actor in a Robert Altman movie, given percussion workshops, and written music for the Moscow Circus.

Organized as a combo to tour Europe playing the music of his remarkable debut LP in 1987, the dynamism of this Bump band encouraged him to write new tunes and this CD is the happy result. Built around a rhythm section of veteran electric bass player Steve Swallow, pianist and old friend Wayne Horvitz and Previte, the group has space age tailgate specialist trombonist Ray Anderson, Marty Ehrlich, unexpectedly on tenor saxophone, as its front line. Bump’s blowers are expanded by Defunkt trombonist Joseph Bowie on this disc. MORE

October 22, 2001


Enja ENJ-9396 2

Among his other attributes, multi-reedman Marty Ehrlich has always been known as a melody man. And, as the title says, this euphonious CD brings these qualities even more to the fore.

Despite that promise and the standard horn-and-rhythm-section line up, be assured that this isn't one of those bucolic smooth jazz snorers or neo-con ballad fests. The woodwind specialist wrote most of the tunes here, and the covers he plays are from such unlikely sources as singer/songwriter Robin Holcomb, Jaki Byard, the late jazz pianist with whom Ehrlich studied and played, and Bob Dylan, who as they say, needs no introduction. MORE

May 15, 2001


Luminous Cycles
Between the lines btl 015/EFA 10185-2

James Emery leads a valiant fight, but in the end he's done in by the acoustic guitar curse. Ever since jazzers switched over to the electric model following Charlie Christian's tenure with Benny Goodman's band in 1939-1941, the acoustic model has been little more than the electric's poor cousin. Sure, versatile soloists like Charlie Byrd and Laurindo Almeida may have concentrated on it for renditions of Brazilian music and standards, but this conservative approach was in retrospect only impressive when compared to lite-jazz, New Age or fusion followers who brandish the instrument to convey their so-called sensitive sides. MORE

January 25, 2001


Yet Can Spring
Arabesque Recordings AJO 154

One may be the loneliest number, but for committed improvisers creating as a duo can be fraught with more anxiety than playing on one's own. Uncompromising solo work may necessitate capturing the listener's attention while weaving variations on the material. But when it takes two, each partner must be like mountain climbers hitched together by a thick rope. Even the tiniest movement of the other must be scrupulously anticipated and amplified so that both don't suddenly plunge down the precipice.


June 17, 2000


Malinke's Dance
OmniTone 12003

Any misguided soul who figures that so-called "out" jazz doesn't swing should listen to this disc.

From the first notes of the jaunty "Rhymes", Ehrlich and his Traveler's Tales band give notice that a form of staightahead, swing isn't only the preserve of recreators like Lincoln Center Orchestra crew. Though it must be stressed that Ehrlich & Co. don't have to blow the dust off their lead sheets -- they're mostly his own compositions -- or pretend that they're famous soloists of he past to do a good job. That's because the musician on this notable CD have the years of experience and performance "smarts" to know when to keep things on a low flame and when to let go.