Jazz needs composers like Marty Ehrlich. Like his mentor Julius Hemphill, Ehrlich, while proficient in the more conventional small group settings, envisions something greater, hearing music of multiple textures, moods, origins and voicings. Divided into six movements and a postlude, The Long View
was originally conceived as aural accompaniment to an exhibition of paintings by Oliver Jackson (another Hemphill cohort). That this work stands on its own is implicit.
The first movement commences with a bracing sax statement by Ehrlich, followed by the stirring entry of twelve more musicians on a range of reeds, brass and rhythm. Trumpeter Eddie Allen takes a turn out front, before being joined by Ehrlich in an exchange of growls and squeals. The horns swell and recede, sometimes in big band style swing, at other times in furious group improvisation. Occasionally an instrument will come to the fore, like Mark Dresser’s bass solo that signals the segue into “Movement II.” In contrast to the rousing horns of the first part, this movement features the rolling mallets of Bobby Previte, the mournful strings of Mark Feldman on violin, Ralph Farris on viola, amd Erik Friedlander on cello—and Ehrlich’s pretty soprano.
The depth of “Movement III” is measured by Ned Rothenberg’s bass clarinet, J.D. Parran’s contrabass clarinet and Andy Laster’s baritone, which enable a conversation between trumpets and provide poignant contrast to Ehrlich’s flute song. “Movement IV” starts with Wayne Horvitz playing delicately on piano in a quartet setting before Ehrlich tears it up on alto. Later in the same piece, Ehrlich and Dresser duet on flute and bass. Ray Anderson’s trombone establishes the slow drag groove of the beginning and end of “Movement V,” with Ehrlich responding with bluesy tenor, and for “Movement VI,” the full ensemble mimics the scope and variety of “Movement I,” this time dominated by Ehrlich’s honking alto soloing, bubbling accompaniment by Marcus Rojas on tuba and Pheeroan akLaff’s emphatic beats.
Movement within movements, gripping orchestrations, and overwhelming collective work define Ehrlich’s accomplishment. If you’re looking for something more than usual small group jazz, Ehrlich’s music for large band is both challenging and rewarding.
Visit Justin Time on the web.
This review originally appeared in AllAboutJazz-New York .
Personnel: Marty Ehrlich: Flute, Bass Clarinet, Tenor, Alto, and Soprano Saxophones; Mark Dresser: Bass; Mark Helias: Bass,
Conductor; Andy Laster: Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone; Sam Furnace Flute, Alto Saxophone; Wayne Horvitz: Piano;
Ray Anderson: Trombone; Clark Gayton: Trombone; Eddie Allen: Trumpet; James Zollar: Trumpet; Marcus Rojas:
Tuba; Mark Feldman: Violin; Eddie Bobe: Bongos, Cowbell; Erik Friedlander: Cello; Robert DeBellis: Bass Clarinet,
Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet; J.D. Parran: Contrabass Clarinet, Tenor Saxophone; Pheeroan akLaff:
Drums; Bobby Previte: Drums, Bass Drums, Tambourine; Michael Sarin: Drums; John Clark: Horn; Ralph Farris: Viola;
Ned Rothenberg: Bass Clarinet, Alto Saxophone.