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Overdue Ovation: Marty Ehrlich, Professor Who Performs

The master reedman reflects on a fruitful career and uncertain future

Marty Ehrlich (photo: Erika Kapin)

Scheduled to play a concert in Boston, Marty Ehrlich finds himself facing more immediate concerns. “I’m supposed to play with the Makanda Project, which does the music of Makanda Ken McIntyre,” says the 64-year-old saxophonist, bass clarinetist, flutist, and composer, speaking in early March from his Beantown lodgings. “I’m the guest artist tonight—if it happens. We’re in the middle of a huge snowstorm.”

Snow is one of the more minor obstacles that Ehrlich has seen lately. Like most musicians, he’s had to adjust to changes in the recording industry, forcing him to rethink both his compositional approach and his revenue streams. (Ehrlich’s most recent CD, Trio Exaltation, came out in May 2018.) He’s also not alone in feeling the current trends in academia: dwindling enrollment, decreased funding, strained faculty.

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Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.