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Artist Profiles

Bobby Few is Coming Through

By Published: May 14, 2005

The Frank Wright Quartet, or the Center of the World as it became known (Wright, Howard, Few and Ali, later including Silva), rented a truck and drove around Western Europe showing up at festivals and getting in by the good graces of promoters. The Actuel festival in Amougies, Belgium as well as festivals in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and elsewhere helped to bolster the group's reputation and it was not long before they were invited to play at happenings like the Nancy Jazz Pulsations (Last Polka in Nancy?, Center of the World Records, 1974) and Berlin's FMP-spearheaded Workshop Freie Musik. The group dissipated in the early '80s, reaching finality with Wright's passing in 1990 and Few joined the ensemble of Steve Lacy, whom he had met at Amougies. Few and Lacy remained a team until 1992, when the saxophonist returned to trio and quartet formations. "Just recently I read an article that said that the reason Steve Lacy stayed in France was because he met me," Few said. Making the switch from the dense and very free, but nevertheless R&B-laced approach of the Center of the World to Lacy's Monkish koans was a unique challenge for Few: "It wasn't easy to play the music of Lacy because it was very special and very complicated. Sometimes I used to go crazy trying to figure out the parts, but after a while it began to grow on me...I had to adjust because he had written it in such a complex way, chordally...but I think it helped him increase melodically because he hadn't been using a piano and it gave him a great lift musically...sometimes he would write chords where my hands were at either end of the piano and you didn't know [what chord it was]."

Early training in classical music and jazz, the volatile, earthy funk of Frank Wright and the at-once hermetic and open miniatures of Lacy have given Bobby Few a unique conception that has yielded hundreds of compositions as well as, interestingly, a penchant for singing, a talent he began to develop while with Wright and that has continued to this day. "When you compose your own music and you're allowed to play it, you really have a lot of fire because it's your own. You see that people respond and want to record and talk about your music, you know it must be working." Few's performances have often seemed like marathons; in a duo with tenor man Avram Fefer, the pair ran through Monk, Ellington, Few's pieces and free improvisations like a juggernaut, running a stylistic and emotional gamut. Rehearsing, improvising and, most importantly, fostering empathy with both fellow musicians and with others who share in the experience are proof—it's working.

Visit Bobby Few on the web.

RECOMMENDED LISTENING:

· Booker Ervin - The In Between (Blue Note, 1968)

· Marzette Watts - Marzette Watts (Savoy, 1969)

· Frank Wright/Muhammad Ali/Bobby Few/Alan Silva - Center of the World, Vol.1&2 (Fractal, 1972)

· Steve Lacy - The Door (Novus, 1988)

· Zusaan Kali Fasteau/Noah Howard/Bobby Few - Expatriate Kin (CIMP, 1997)

· Bobby Few - Continental Jazz Express (Boxholder, 2000)

Photo Credit
Portrait by Bernard Vidal
Performing by Nicolas Perrier



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