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The listener is struck throughout this disc by saxophonist and clarinet player Ehrlich’s wide-ranging conception of what constitutes a "song." The opening number, titled “Waltz,” opens with a poised, spare clarinet solo from Ehrlich, accompanied by the tiniest flicker of sound from Uri Caine on piano -- as far from a merry Viennese dance as a lament is from a polka. The mood shifts in midtrack, as it does on many of these cuts, but the memory of sadness and loss lingers. Ehrlich’s horn sings on this waltz, but it also speaks, and rambles, and sighs and whispers. “Blue Boye’s Blues” opens with a raucous free-form segment, replete with snarls and grunts and squeals from Ray Anderson’s trombone. This “blues” is less a sad song than a cry of passion, loss, and desolation…and then the mood shifts again, and we rise up from the depths to a soaring, swinging celebration. Shifting moods and tempos, richness of conception, intricate interplay between the musicians -- there is all that here. And the playing throughout is superb; Ehrlich is in top form, lithe, cerebral, soulful, and inventive. Uri Caine remains one of the most interesting and versatile pianists recording, and the bass-and-drum team of Michael Formanek and Billy Drummond constitutes an expressive enterprise full of surprises and moments of startling sensitivity. There are even some surprises in the song list, like a Bob Dylan tune, “I Pity the Poor Immigrant,” which opens in a quiet lament and sweeps itself up to a churchy hallelujah. This is a sophisticated, rewarding disc, the work of a mature artistic vision, masterfully realized.
Performance CreditsMarty Ehrlich Primary Artist,Bass Clarinet,Alto Saxophone,Soprano Saxophone
Ray Anderson Trombone
Michael Formanek Bass
Billy Drummond Drums
Uri Caine Piano
Technical CreditsMarty Ehrlich Producer,Liner Notes
James Farber Engineer
Matthias Winckelmann Executive Producer
Peter Watrous Liner Notes