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Marty Ehrlich Large Ensemble: A Trumpet in the Morning

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Whether or not Marty Ehrlich was affected by the harsh reviews of The Long View, the boldly experimental 2003 recording by his Large Ensemble, this belated follow-up is much more cohesive in a listener-friendly way. That isn’t to say A Trumpet in the Morning, which consists of Ehrlich compositions dating back to 1992, is without its bold strokes: sudden tonal and stylistic shifts, unusual time signatures, juxtaposed source materials. But with a rugged blues sensibility and charismatic soloists (and longtime Ehrlich associates) like trombonist Ray Anderson, trumpeter James Zollar, pianist Uri Caine and saxophonist J.D. Parran animating things, the album is full of crowd-pleasing moves to go with its sophisticated inside game.

Parran provides both the exultant narration (“Watch me, watch me steal away!”) and charged soprano and bass saxophone solos on the 23-minute title track. Based on a poem by Arthur Brown, a St. Louis crony of Ehrlich’s and Parran’s who died young, the concerto-like work combines the earthy, open-air feeling of an AACM recitation and the heartland emotion of an Aaron Copland piece.

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