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Marty EhrlichFeatured Artist: Marty Ehrlich

Year: 2005

Record Label: Palmetto

Style: Progressive

Musicians: M.E. (alto sax, clarinet), Howard Johnson (bass clarinet, baritone sax, tuba), James Weidman (piano, melodica), Greg Cohen (bass), Allison Miller (drums)

Review:

While I’ve always admired Marty Ehrlich’s musicianship, some of his albums have seemed a little…aloof, technically swell but somehow distant, more to admire than to enjoy on a repeat basis. Until, as you may’ve surmised, now. News On The Rail is one of the years nicest surprises – it’s intellectually provocative, yet with plenty of heart. It has great subtlety, but doesn’t forget to swing (and smile). “Enough Enough” is the kick-off. It is a jolly [Duke] Ellingtonian swinger where the sextet sounds like a whole jazz orchestra. (Actual Dukal connection: James Zollar was in the Duke’s band.) The rather ascetic (yet full-bodied) “Light In The Morning” and the whimsically sardonic “Seeker’s Delight” reflect the influence of Jimmy Giuffre (post-1960, that is) and Third Stream music (jazz + classical/notated composition = 3rd Stream), as well as Ehrlich’s classical. The knotty ballet-grace and quirky agitation of “Dance #2” could be an unissued 60s track from Andrew Hill. Throughout, one can happily discern the influence of (or is it in tribute to?) the late Julius Hemphill in Ehrlich’s alto – not an imitation, mind you, but in the way Ehrlich’s alto is loaded with Hank Crawford/Cannonball Adderley blues-juice without doing typical blues licks or structure. There are some “out” moments, but they’re woven into a definite, viable context, not an every-organism-for-itself wank-out. All the players acquit themselves more-than-admirably, they’ve got so much that there’s no need to show-off, and best of all is Rail is mos def an ensemble music – later for that I’ll solo, then you, etc. Hyperbole Alert: News is everything a jazz disc should be. (“Should be” = fascinating, entertaining, witty, brainy, swinging, chance-taking, creative flair, engaging melodies and harmonies, no muss, no fuss, no waxy yellow buildup.)

Tracks:

1. Enough Enough
2. Hear You Say
3. Light in the Morning (Many Thousand Gone),
4. News on the Rail
5. Dance No. 2
6. Erica
7. Seeker’s Delight
8. Keeper of the Flame (in memory of Sam Furnace)

Reviewed by: Mark Keresman

 
 

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