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Bold black brush strokes distinguish the cover of Line on Love, an offering whose compositions arouse with dense sensuality. The latest CD from reedman Marty Ehrlich features mood-inducing intros that allow him and pianist Craig Taborn to find their groove. Bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Billy Drummond especially enhance the dark cool feeling of Ehrlich’s playing. There is little frilly activity here and the session achieves elegance without daintiness. With the exception of respectful opener, “Hymn,” Ehrlich produces a thick rich texture that reminds of red velvet, mahogany patinas and dimly lit rooms.
The alto line of “Like I Said” is very palpable, displaced by piano and drums and then returning to straddle the tension between melodic and free. The title piece, reprised here from Malinke’s Dance (Omnitone), longingly pleads through an extended intro to set up a mood. Tension builds through vibrato until a melody emerges and the piano solos with a classical feel. Ehrlich soars on sax as he tries and succeeds to get a “Line on Love.” “Julian’s Theme” follows, moving up-tempo with its catchy melody and ever-present rich alto tone.
Alto and cymbal traverse many registers on “Turn Circle and Spin” until the piano hesitatingly enters the fray and a lovely melody is found and explored by Formanek’s bass. A rock-like rhythm is set up to provide the heat that Ehrlich powerfully rails against on the short but steamy “St. Louis Summer.” The two bass clarinet pieces are as different as their titles suggest. While “Solace” features a lonely bass clarinet solo that string bass mirrors with intentional imperfection, “The Git Go” has Ehrlich using his instrument’s range to mimic sax but then surprise with a sliding note that doesn’t stop where you expect. With his lush dark tone Ehrlich communicates the desire contained within his Line on Love.
Track Listing: Hymn; Like I Said; Line On Love; Julian
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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