Tag Archives: Glenn Ferris

New York Times review by Nate Chinen

Bobby Bradford /Mark Dresser / Glenn Ferris – Live in LA (CF 241)
Mr. Dresser also plays a pivotal role on “Live in L.A.” (Clean Feed), a more casual recording featuring the trumpeter Bobby Bradford and the trombonist Glenn Ferris, both veterans of the avant-garde. Their performance, from 2009, unfolds as rough-and-tumble sport, but not without a framework: only two of the eight tracks here are whole-cloth inventions. The others, especially three by Mr. Ferris, tend to build on the blues, with an unambiguous feeling for swing. “For Bradford,” a tune by Mr. Dresser — at one point it was in the repertory of Trio M — suggests the shifting tonalities of Mr. Bradford’s old associate Ornette Coleman. Both Mr. Bradford and Mr. Ferris play with pugnacious alertness, doing some of their best work in an improvised tandem. Mr. Dresser is the anchor in their midst, and every bit as active with his use of contrapuntal texture.

San Diego Reader review by Robert Bush

Bobby Bradford Mark Dresser Glenn Ferris – Live in LA (CF 241)
LA trumpeter/cornetist Bobby Bradford is a living legend of free jazz music. He grew up in Fort Worth, Texas and played with childhood friend Ornette Coleman, eventually replacing Don Cherry in Coleman’s quartet years later, after a stint in the Air Force, and the move to California.   He enjoyed a long and fruitful association with reed master John Carter, another Texas transplant, that lasted until Carter’s death.

Glenn Ferris began playing trombone as a professional in the ahead-of-its-time Don Ellis Orchestra in 1968, when he was just 18. In 1972, he went out on the road with Frank Zappa, and ultimately landed in France, where he continues to teach and play presently.   Mark Dresser first played with Bradford in the early ’70s, in a group with David Murray on saxophone and James Newton on flute, helmed by future music critic/drummer Stanley Crouch. He moved to Italy via a Fulbright Fellowship to study with Franco Petracchi, then to New York for 18 years playing with Anthony Braxton and other leaders of the free jazz continuum, before returning to San Diego to teach at UCSD.   Live In LA represents a sublime collaborative effort between three master musicians at the top of their game. All of these guys share a very strong rhythmic component–allowing them to breathe together as a unit despite the absence of drums. Indeed, Dresser performs a sort of double duty–keeping time not only through the surety of his bass line flow, but also with well-timed percussive effects that drive the pulse forward.   Dresser’s “For Bradford,” opens the disc, and the polyphony of the two horns over the shifting metrics of the bass is well established when Ferris muscles to the front with bluesy repetitions and swinging lines, soon joined by the fat, smearing remarks of Bradford. They solo together, then suddenly Dresser surfaces with his trademarked double-glissandi and chromatic strumming.   “In My Dream,” an original by the trombonist, begins with a fanfare like melody, and when Dresser breaks into straight “time” playing, the results are ecstatic, opening up a bed of support for Ferris’ ebullient, swinging solo.   On “Pandas Run” and “Bamboo Shoots,” the three players create remarkably cogent, on-the-spot group improvisations that bear the same weight as the more composed material. Bradford lays out long lines of chromatic sequences, then rests, as Ferris takes over with burring, slurring commentary. Dresser’s bass is always muscular and adroit, and his hands are so powerful, he occasionally makes his strings sound like rubber-bands about to snap.   “Bbjc,” by the bassist, opens with Bradford and Ferris engaged in echoing lines while Dresser alternates between furious walking, shifting pedal tones and brief moments of violent string slapping. Bradford and Ferris solo in tandem– the trumpeter’s insistent trills often drawing short bursts of multiphonics from the trombone in reply. Bradford even whips out the plunger-mute for some gutbucket discourse–a true aural delight.

Stash Dauber reviews

Some good jazz records, mostly on Clean Feed
I said I wasn’t going to write a lot this month, but then in the middle of a John Fahey binge (Georgia Stomps, Atlanta Struts and Other Contemporary Dance Favorites and Womblife), an envelope arrived from Lisbon bearing the latest from Clean Feed, the Portuguese label that’s established itself as the Blue Note of the ‘teens, including a couple that I just had to hear right away.

Live in L.A. (CF 241) documents a performance from a trio consisting of trumpeter Bobby Bradford, bassist Mark Dresser, and trombonist Glenn Ferris. Bradford’s a Mississippi-born, Texas-bred Californian and familiar of Fort Worth eminences Ornette Coleman (he’s all over Science Fiction) and John Carter who’s led his own Mo’tet since the early ’90s. Dresser’s worked with Anthony Braxton, among others, while Ferris is an Angeleno who’s lived and taught in France since the ’80s. Together they play a cerebral brand of chamber jazz, with Bradford — heard here on cornet — and Ferris intertwining contrapuntal lines and Dresser moving seamlessly between arco and pizzicato attacks. On “Bamboo Shoots,” all three instruments play vocally-inflected lines, to which one of the musicians adds a sung response. An intimately alive and organic set.

So Soft Yet (CF 243) is the latest encounter between redoubtable Dallas trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez and Portuguese pianist Joao Paulo Esteves da Silva, with whom he shared a previous Clean Feed release, 2009’s Scapegrace. On this 2010 reunion, Gonzalez employs the electronics (mainly an octave splitter) that he eschewed on their first meeting, and Joao Paulo divides his time between acoustic and electric pianos and accordion. On the electric instrument, he sometimes plays percussive and modal figures that give the music the feel of a two-man Bitches Brew. His accordion gives the sound a lyrical lilt. On “El Destierro,” both men play unusually sparsely, using silence and space to heighten the impact of the notes that are played. Impressive artistry, beautifully registered.

Frog Leg Logic (CF 242) is the latest outing from reedman Marty Ehrlich’s Rites Quartet. The ebullient title track explodes out of the gate, showcasing the group’s orchestral heft — impressive for such a small unit — and improvisational aplomb. Cellist Hank Roberts can function as a timekeeper or a third melodic voice, as needed. “Ballade” is a lovely lament that breaks down into a blues following the initial thematic statement. Trumpeter James Zollar plays a solo that shifts seamlessly between muted growls and post-bop angularity. When the theme returns in a wash of lyrical beauty, it gives the track a nicely complete feel. “You Can Beat the Slanted Cards” features a seductively circuitous melody, with nicely spare trap-kicking from drummer Michael Sarin. Ehrlich’s an ace improviser on alto, soprano, and flute, but his true strength is as a composer and bandleader.

In that regard, he’s a direct descendent of his mentor, Fort Worth native Julius Hemphill, who made his initial impact in St. Louis in the early ’70s before heading to New York to found and lead the World Saxophone Quartet, as well as his own sextet and big band. Hemphill’s masterwork, Dogon A.D. — which he originally self-released in 1972 and Arista Freedom subsequently reissued in 1977 — made its first appearance on CD this year via International Phonograph, Inc., in a beautifully-packaged edition (heavy cardboard gatefold sleeve) that includes all four tracks from the original session (“The Hard Blues” wouldn’t fit on the original LP and so had to wait for 1975’s Coon Bid’ness to see the light of day). There are many elements and aspects of Dogon A.D. — the complex themes, Abdul Wadud’s cello, drummer Philip Wilson’s minimalist backbeat — that are echoed on Frog Leg Logic, but that’s no slight to Ehrlich. The Hemphill album’s influence on the last 30 years of creative jazz has been as inescapable as, say, Out To Lunch’s, making its reappearance the most welcome jazz reissue of 2011.