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Bobby Few, Avram Fefer, Wilber Morris: Few and Far Between

Dan McClenaghan By

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Our loss is Europe's gain—an old story in jazz. But sometimes we get lucky, and they come back home and give us some music.

Pianist Bobby Few has made Paris his home for thirty years, though he has been heard over here on Steve Lacy Sextet recordings. Now Boxholder Records—who have, over the past couple of yers put out a string of very high quality live CDs, is offering up Few in a live trio setting, with saxophonist Avram Fefer and bassist Wilbur Morris on Few and Far Between: Live at Tonic 6/4/00 The set features four extended numbers, three originals—one each from each of the band, and one classic, Mingus's "Nostagia in Times Square".

Bobby Few's hard-driving "Continental Express" opens the set—a runaway train, downbound (Fefer's apparent goal) or ascending the scales to the clouds(Bobby Few); or anchored on solid ground (Wilber Morris' muscular, throbbing bass lines)is up for debate.

The pace slows with Morris's "Chazz", a wee hours, smoky room blues, with a continual balancing act between Few's lush, intricate lines and Fefer's edgy, rough-hewn attack.

Leader Fefer's "Loss" is perhaps the disc's highlight. A slow-builder, like "Chazz", with Few setting the sad atmosphere. Fefer's blowing starts out wearily melancholic, gentle and sad, and lets the grief build to the wailing and teeth-gnashing end of the spectrum—a tenor band saw chewing through the dark hard wood of a stained oak coffin lid, screaming into dense swirls of grain around hard knots.

The nineteen minute closer, Mingus's "Nostalgia in Times Square" ends things on an up note. A driver, it acts as a perfect bookend to Few's opener, with Fefer's sounding resonant and relatively conventional, with a brassy, hollow tone to his horn; tight rhythm abound, and room for some inventive soloing.

Another live gem from Boxholder.

Title: Few And Far Between | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Tzadik

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