Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Marty Ehrlich's Dark Winds Ensemble

Marty Ehrlich should never be taken for granted. With a track record that includes associations and recordings with some of the finest musicians out there, and a series of excellent recordings under his own name, he has been somewhat quietly making music of the first rank. That does not mean he is now settling comfortably into a style niche and repeating past successes. Not at all.

The 1999 recording Sojourn (Tzadik) with his Dark Woods Ensemble can serve as an example. It cannot be easily classified. It has Marty on clarinet and soprano, Erik Friedlander, cello, Mark Helias, bass, and Marc Ribot on guitar. You would think such a lineup would produce a chamber jazz date, and it is in many ways that. But it is much more. It is first and foremost MUSIC, call it what you will. There are jazz elements, folk-Jewish, middle-eastern elements, rather classical sounding aspects, and just simply Marty-music in the end.

The music is deeply evocative, deeply moving and, ten years down the road, music that still needs to be heard. "Is is said that the only home we have is in a song," Ehrlich remarks in the liner notes. If that is the case, the music of Sojourn opens up a home we can all live in with great pleasure and comfort.

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