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Hear You Say by the Ray Anderson / Marty Ehrlich Quartet

While the compositions, all originals by Ehrlich and Anderson, are interesting and substantial, this quartet is really about improvisation. And that's only appropriate because both Anderson and Ehrlich sound like they're at the tops of their respective games throughout this great live CD. Drummer Matt Wilson and bassist Brad Jones have that 'tight-but-loose' feel and provide sympathetic yet dynamic backing to the veteran hornmen. A case in point is the opening track – a multi-sectioned piece dedicated to the late jazz violinist Leroy Jenkins. Wilson and Jones almost imperceptibly slide in behind the intertwining lines of Anderson's trombone and Ehrlich's clarinet during the opening rubato section. From there, the quartet eases into an almost funky feel for Anderson's blustery, emotive solo before the piece opens up into a succession of improvisations over an ever-shifting backdrop.

From there, the quartet investigates pretty much the entire landscape of modern jazz. The title track is a tour de force of funk, with Wilson's amazingly inventive drumming leading the way. Wilson and Anderson really engage each other for an uncannily conversational bit of improv that's followed by Jones' particularly eloquent solo. 'The Lion's Tanz' features an abstract dialogue between Anderson and Ehrlich, interspersed episodically with frenetic, circus-like, almost comical quartet statements that morph into collective improvisations of near-volcanic intensity. I couldn't help but think of Braxton's influence while listening to this piece. By contrast, 'My Wish' is a sweet, tender ballad that has a melancholy, New Orleans funereal feel to it and some really fetching two-horn harmonies.

The rest of “Hear You Say” is comprised of the sort of high-octane, avant-tinged jamming that you'd expect from these veteran virtuosos. 'Alligatory Rhumba,' a long-time Anderson favorite, gets a real workout here – Wilson and Jones float through the twists and turns of the Latin-ish theme, making way for more improvisational acrobatics by the co-leaders. I especially enjoyed 'The Git Go' – along with 'Hot Crab Pot' it's basically the only pure blowing tune on the CD, and has a lovely, dark-sounding minor-keyed theme. 'Hot Crab Pot' has a more cheerful and extroverted feel to it, driven by Wilson's ferocious, Ed Blackwell-inspired drumming.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Ray Anderson / Marty Ehrlich Quartet
  • CD Title: Hear You Say
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2010
  • Record Label: Intuition Records
  • Tracks: Portrait of Leroy Jenkins, Hot Crab Pot, My Wish, The Lion's Tanz, The Git Go, Alligatory Rhumba, Hear You Say
  • Musicians: Ray Anderson (trombone), Marty Ehrlich (clarinet, alto & soprano saxophones), Brad Jones (bass), Matt Wilson (drums)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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