Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Marty Ehrlich: The Long View

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

The Long View is a seven-movement suite inspired by the paintings of Oliver Jackson. It’s abstraction upon abstraction, as reedist Marty Ehrlich attempts to create the sonic equivalent of Jackson’s abstract visual images-but the art of music is already inherently abstract. In fact the two paintings in the liner foldout are complex, highly detailed, very “active” with black lines, yet shaded, distantly moody. Much of this description could apply to Ehrlich’s suite, too-it’s musical abstract impressionism, with ever-changing textures and momentum. Fast, slow and static events follow one on another or occur simultaneously, clashing or concurring; no element is extended very long.

How can a composer create unity and character out of such discontinuity? For one thing, with sound: different ensembles, continually recombining into smaller units, play different movements. So there are duo, quartet, septet and big-band movements; the second movement even has a string trio, alternating with quiet percussion. The Long View is not exactly easy listening, yet there is much to enjoy in the multiplying musical events. Thematic recall and variation unify the fifth movement via a fetching tenor sax-trombone blues phrase. The first movement is especially broken, with accelerando and deaccelerandos, quiet crescendos and decrescendos and free tenor and trumpet chases. The sixth movement bumps from wild collective improvisations to alto, tuba (Marcus Rojas) and drums (Pheeroan AkLaff) passages worthy of Henry Threadgill. Throughout the disc Ehrlich is the chief unifying element, playing many solo passages or leading ensembles with big, pure sounds on alto, tenor and soprano saxes and even flute. His mates are a New York underground who’s who, among whom trombonist Ray Anderson and trumpeter Eddie Allen, especially, use expressive ingenuity to make the most of their limited roles.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.