Thursday, January 19, 2012

Marty Ehrlich's Rites Quartet - Frog Leg Logic (Clean Feed, 2011)

In their description of this album, Clean Feed draws the comparison between this group anchored by saxophonist Marty Ehrlich and cellist Hank Roberts to the great loft jazz music made between saxophonist Julius Hemphill and cellist Abdul Wadud during the 1970’s and 1980’s. The distinction is apt, and joining Ehrlich and Roberts on this date are James Zollar on trumpet and Michael Sarin on drums. While they aren’t quite as gritty as the likes of Hemphill’s recently re-released classic Dogon A.D., the group achieves a fine progressive jazz sound with Ehrlich and Zollar swirling and probing each other’s phrases, recalling records by Eric Dolphy and Booker Little or Chris Potter and Dave Douglas. “You Can Beat The Slanted Cards” and “Frog Leg Logic” make their case quite nicely with angular momentum moving with geometrical precision as the musicians improvise on the unusual themes. “Ballade” and “Solace” slow down the pace to an atmospheric and patient flow, Roberts and Sarin are particularly important in these performances as they are able to use subtle and gradual shifts in time and space to lay evolving textural shapes for the hornmen to react to, developing collective improvisations where everyone is interacting in real time. This is very solid and enjoyable modern jazz, steeped in the music that preceded them, but at same time making music that has a thoroughly modern sensibility. Frog Leg Logic -

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