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Avram Fefer and Bobby Few: Kindred Spirits

Dan McClenaghan By

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Multiple reedist Avram Fefer and pianist Bobby Few team up here to play some jazz standards by Monk, Ellington, and Mingus—not what you'd expect from a pair of artists better known for their free jazz credentials. Few played for ten years with Steve Lacy, and Fefer put out several fine sets on the CIMP label; they collaborated with the late bassist Wilbur Morris on the outstanding Few and Far Between (Boxholder, '02). Few, who has been called a true American treasure, and rightly so, has been an expatriate for thirty years (in Paris). Most of his seventy-plus recordings have been on small European labels: hard to find stuff on this side of the Atlantic. Fefer, with his burly tenor tone and sometimes roaring soloing—I'm thinking of Few and Far Between here—probably fits better than Few into the free jazz category. But on Kindred Spirits the duo gets deep into the classic tunes, in a relaxed good-friends-been-playin'-together-forever mode.

Four of tunes here are from Monk's pen: "Ask Me Now," "Light Blue," "Pannonica," and the seldom done (even by Monk) "Friday the 13th," drawing from Few's Lacy band tenure. Two are by Mingus—"Reincarnation of a Lovebird" and "Orange Was the Color of Her Hair Then Blue Silk," which comes off wee-hours bluesy—and one by Ellington, "Come Sunday." The closers are both Fefer originals: "Heavenly Places" and "Kingdom Come," which appears in two takes featuring clarinet and tenor, respectively.

The disc is part of a welcome burst of recording activity by Fefer, with Kindred Spirits being released simutaneously by Boxholder along with a second, freer set by the Fefer/Few duo, Heavenly Places, in addition to two CIMP releases, one as leader and one as a sideman.

Kindred Spirits showcases two major, if underappreciated, talents in a beautifully accessible setting—Few luxuriant and bluesy, glimmering harp-like at times, and Fefer in a rich-toned, straightforward mode, playing classic sounds with reverence and a contained joy.

Visit Avram Fefer and Bobby Few on the web.

Track Listing: Ask Me Now, Light Blue, Reincarnation of a Lovebird, Come sunday, Pannonica, Friday the 13th, Orange Was the Color of Her Hair Then Blue Silk, Heavenly Places, Kingdom Come--clarinet, Kingdom Come--tenor

Personnel: Avram Fefer--tenor and soprano saxophones, clarinet; Bobby Few--piano

Title: Kindred Spirits | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Boxholder Records


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