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Alan Ferber: Developing String Theory

Franz A. Matzner By

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AAJ: Earlier, you didn't mention classical as a strong musical influence, but this album certainly sounds as if you have a background there.

AF: If I were to give you my strongest classical influence, it would be Bach; his four-part choral writing is used all over this record. If you go in and look at the scores and how I think about moving the voices around, it really comes from the studies I've done of Bach. And it is a double-string quartet on the record, which means I am dealing with four voices so that those four-part chorals were [where] I drew a lot of influence.

AAJ: It seems a challenge to have that kind of structure, but still giving space to let the improvisation work. It creates an interesting effect that is not just head, improvisation and that's it. How would you describe that process? Maybe walk us through one of the pieces from composing it to recording it in the studio.

AF: The last piece, and I think this a general rule I carry over to all my pieces. I observe what instruments and personalities I have available for that piece. Then I really try to take advantage of almost every combination I can to maximize the number of colors I can from that expectation. So, for example, I am not trying to use all forces at all times. I am trying to find ways to maximize the peaks and the valleys dynamically and texturally. So in that last piece, you'll notice in the middle there's about a full minute when only strings are playing and then the end and the beginning are just horns. And every combination in between is used during the piece. I bring instruments in, drop them out. Viola and tenor at one spot, then cello and trombone or clarinet at another spot. Then just the strings, just the horns. I want to take advantage of all the colors in my palette.

Selected Discography

Alan Ferber Nonet, Chamber Songs (Sunnyside, 2010)

Charlie Hunter, Gentlemen, I Neglected To Inform You You Will Not Be Getting Paid (Spire Artists, 2010)

Chris Jentsch Group Large, Cycles Suite (Fleur de Son, 2009)

David Binney/Alan Ferber, In The Paint (Posi-Tone Records, 2009)

Gary Morgan and PanAmericana!, Felicidade (Self Produced, 2008)

Anthony Wilson Nonet, Power of Nine (Groove Note, 2006)

Alan Ferber Nonet, Scenes From An Exit Row (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2005)

John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, A Blessing (Omnitone Records, 2005)

Eric Starr, She (Eric Starr Records, 2003)

Alan Ferber Septet, Playground (Jazz House Records, 2001)

Todd Sickafoose Group, Dogs Outside (Evander Music, 2000)

The Daversa And Morell Band, The D.a.M. Band (Rough Cut Records 1994)

Photo credits

Page 1: David Smith

Page 2, 4, 5: Courtesy of Alan Ferber

Page 3: Scott Friedlander

About Alan Ferber
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