Marty Ehrlich Rites Quartet – Things Have Got to Change (CF 150)
A New One From Marty Ehrlich’s Rites Quartet
I’ve come to expect very good things from Marty Ehrlich. He takes care formulating the approach each of his ensembles puts across, and they stand out for composition, interplay and individual soloists. His Rites Quartet is an excellent example. The recent Things Have Got to Change (Clean Feed) CD bears this out.
Marty sets this group up partly to pay tribute to the memory of Julius Hemphill and his wonderful music. Around half the pieces on the disk are by Julius, including a very nice rendition of “Dogon AD;” the other half are Ehrlich originals.
Erik Friedlander here plays cello somewhat in the manner of Abdul Wadud, Hemphill’s bandmate of note. Erik’s funky pizzicato has lots of soul, clearly giving himself over to the Wadud’s way of musical thinking. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard Eric sound quite this rootsy. Of course he is untouchable as a flowingly moving arco player and that side shows up on this disk as well. He adds much to the session. Pheeroan Aklaff drives the group in his irrepressibly vigorous manner. Trumpet man James Zollar has imagination and pluck and works well in the front line as a contrasting voice to the always interesting Ehrlich on alto.
Things Have Got to Change falls together as vitally communicative music from the first cut to the last. Highly recommended.
PAUL DUNMALL SUN QUARTET – Ancient And Future Airs (CF 138 )
It’s funny reading, on the press release, of the “triumphant presentation” of the Paul Dunmall/Henry Grimes/Andrew Cyrille trio that occurred in New York the day before this CD was recorded (June 15, 2008), since I’ve just listened to the album documenting that particular concert finding the music rather confused, lacking artistic consequence and, in general, overhyped. Ancient And Future Airs is another matter altogether, a set where mental lucidity is constantly tangible, the interplay definitely benefiting from this clear collective vision.
In the lengthy “Ancient Airs” the Paul Dunmall/Tony Malaby forward couple – two tenor and a soprano sax, plus the ever-cherished bagpipes – is at times utterly spectacular, swapping accurately hurtful power shots reminiscent of the first Diego Corrales – Jose Luis Castillo fight (if you haven’t seen that one, get a copy then thank your reviewer later) but, in the calmer sections, conversing like old friends at late night, all arguments finally settled in favour of an evocative deliberateness not intoxicated by the fumes of dishonest technical deception. Not to mention the almost savage spirit of their extensive solos, “exhaustion” an unidentified word in this occasion.
Whereas Mark Helias represents a paradigm of functional acoustic link, his purpose apparently consisting in reminding everybody about the possible contaminations deriving from a schizophrenic autonomy (though he cannot certainly be defined as an unadventurous player: check the splendid solo around the 34th minute), Kevin Norton’s vibes – more than his corroborating drumming – squeeze small droplets of metallic colour on the timbral canvas, different hues added to an already complex, if entirely logical picture of passion and intelligence.
The encore (“Future Airs”) is a short yet momentous demonstration of how restraint and control can work wonders in jazz, the artists maintaining an utopian farsightedness as they manage to keep seditious tendencies at bay, a captivating de-escalation of energy into the original state of quietness. A classily sensitive conclusion for an inspiring recording.