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Alan Ferber: March Sublime (2013)

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Alan Ferber: March Sublime How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

When you open a nice bottle of red wine, to get the best results, it is better to set the bottle aside for some time. You let the wine, as they say, "breathe," allowing oxygen to bring out the hidden flavors. Same for a big band recording like Alan Ferber's March Sublime. Instead of setting the disc aside, you might check with your neighbors (or close your windows) and turn up the volume. At higher amplification, the subtleties and nuances of the trombonist's arrangements are revealed.

Ferber, a veteran of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and John Hollenbeck
John Hollenbeck
John Hollenbeck
b.1968
drums
's large ensemble, cut his teeth playing in the big bands of Gerald Wilson
Gerald Wilson
Gerald Wilson
1918 - 2014
composer/conductor
, Les Brown
Les Brown
Les Brown
1912 - 2001
composer/conductor
and Brian Setzer. His previous release, Chamber Songs: Music for Nonet and Strings (Sunnyside, 2010) proved that he can write more intricate music. Here he displays the same conviction, but with a large jazz ensemble.

The eight tracks, five penned by the leader, elegantly capture the 17- piece band and Ferber's arrangements. The disc opens with the up-tempo and rhythmically elaborate "Kopi Luwak," a song named after an Indonesian coffee bean that is harvested only after it has been pooped-out, undigested, by monkeys. While the java might be crap, the music is a caffeinated crossroad of modern composition and Eastern European music. Saxophonist John O'Gallagher
John O'Gallagher
John O'Gallagher
b.1964
sax, alto
takes a smashingly funky solo over the disciplined big band's intricate playing.

Ferber reaches across eras here. He can go old school, delivering a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Hoagy Carmichael
Hoagy Carmichael
Hoagy Carmichael
1899 - 1981
piano
's "I Get Along Without You Very Well," with all the traditional dressings of a large ensemble circa Red Norvo
Red Norvo
Red Norvo
1908 - 1999
vibraphone
's Orchestra 1939, with trumpeter Scott Wendholt
Scott Wendholt
Scott Wendholt
b.1965
trumpet
and pianist David Cook taking tastefully reserved solos. He can also take up an electronically modified trombone to solo on the title track. While not beholden to one sound, Ferber keeps his concepts consistent. His cover of Björk's "Hyper-Ballad" features an ever-changing arrangement, sifting the charts and foundation of the piece, while sprinkling it with some electric keyboards, clapping and time changes.

The masterpiece here is the two tracks "Wildwood Intro" and "Wildwood." Ferber presents a lazy, streaming blues, gorged on his and guitarist Anthony Wilson
Anthony Wilson
Anthony Wilson
b.1968
guitar
and solos. The big band offers up a trombone chorus, some big, sweeping vistas and full- bodied flavor. Waiter, another glass please.

Track Listing: Kopi Luwak; Hyper-Ballad; Wildwood Intro; Wildwood; So It Seems; March Sublime; I Get Along Without You Very Well; Compass.

Personnel: Alan Ferber: trombone, composer, arranger: John O'Gallagher: alto saxophone, soprano: saxophone; Rob Wilkerson: alto saxophone; John Ellis: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Jason Rigby - tenor saxophone, flute; Chris Cheek: baritone saxophone; Tim Albright: trombone (1, 4, 7, 8); Ryan Keberle: trombone (2, 3, 5, 6); Josh Roseman: trombone; Jennifer Wharton: bass trombone; Taylor Haskins: trumpet; Scott Wendholt: trumpet; David Smith: trumpet (1, 4, 7 & 8); Alex Norris: trumpet (2, 3, 5, 6); Clay Jenkins: trumpet; Anthony Wilson: guitar; David Cook: piano, keyboards; Matt Pavolka: acoustic bass, electric bass; Mark Ferber: drums.

Record Label: Sunnyside Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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