Sunday, May 13, 2012

Tastes Like Chicken

Marty Ehrlich’s Rites Quartet, Frog Leg Logic
Clean Feed

Marty Ehrlich – Alto and Soprano Saxophones, Flute
James Zollar - Trumpet
Hank Roberts - Cello
Michael Sarin – Drums

Marty Ehrlich is one of those unsung heros of modern jazz. He’s been a great player for years, but doesn’t seem to enjoy a consistently high profile. Other alto players, most notably Steve Lehman and Rudresh Mahanthappa, have gotten a lot of press in recent years. Ehrlich made a series of excellent albums for Enja in the nineties and early aughts, but I sometimes yearned for him to break loose a little more; he could be tasteful to a fault.

I’ve lost track of what he’s been up to the past few years, but he’s made a strong statement with Frog Leg Logic. The record is a perfect balance of memorable melodies, all by Ehrlich, with solos that straddle the inside and the outside. Ehrlich being Ehrlich, the blues is never far away in his sound. James Zollar is another under-recognized player who is excellent throughout, and it’s great to hear Hank Roberts' funky cello again. Michael Sarin is another name I don’t see quite as often as I did a few years ago, but he provides the drive and the nuance as needed.

If you’re a fan of mainstream-modern playing, you’ll like this. If you’re a fan of the avant-garde, you’ll like this.

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