With an ensemble that includes his twin brother Mark (drums), Matt Clohesy (bass), Bryn Roberts (piano), Nate Radley (guitar), Charles Pillow (bass clarinet), John Ellis (tenor saxophone), Jon Gordon (alto saxophone) and either Scott Wendholt (6 tracks) or Shane Endsley (2 tracks) on trumpet), Ferber has sculpted a program that celebrates new life, creativity, the silence or hectic pace of living with a person that changes and grows every day plus trying to continue to carry on doing what a musician has to do. But don't expect squalling solos and skittery rhythms - instead, the listener moves through a series of reflections on a creative artist's ever-changing life.
The opening stop-and-start rhythms as well as the swinging melody section easily push "Wayfarer" forward while "Flow" follows, a poly-rhythmic treat that moves stealthily as if on tip-toes with an intensity that keeps building and climaxes with an exchange between Wendholt and Radley. "Perspective" is calmer, introspective, with a slowly developing melody that opens to solos from Clohesy, Pillow, and a long, powerful, statement from John Ellis. Ferber spreads the melodic material around on "Echo Calling" with the sections and the drummer creating a complex call-and-response. The final tracks, "Cycles", builds from the playful give-and-take of muted trumpet, saxophone, and drums (Mark Ferber can really lay down the funk grooves), adding voices until the brass and reeds play the theme before Ellis plays a mighty solo. A quick return to the circular, percussive, melody with all the voices riffing. As the tempo slows, Gordon and Alan Ferber rise out of the mix for short solos before the guitar, bass, piano and drums quietly put the piece and album to bed.
For more information, go to www.alanferber.com. To hear selections from the album, go to sunnysidezone.com/album/roots-transitions.
"The Cornucopiad" (BJU Records), his original music is based in Greek mythology plus he re-arranges 3 jazz standards plus he creates 5 "sonic portraits" with multi-tracked French horn and guitars (played by long-time associate and co-producer Pete Thompson).
|Vacant Eye Photography|
The best way to enjoy "Cornucopiad" is to listen to the program all the way through a number of times; that's really how you hear how the various stories are connected. Justin Mullens is such a talented arranger/composer, creating music that not only illustrates the ensemble's talents but also illuminates their fine soloing, all in the service of a fascinating story
For more information, go to delphianorchestra.com.
Here's the Octet in action for April 10, 2016 with Art Hirahara sitting in for pianist Matt Ray:
The debut album of the Christopher Zuar Orchestra has just been issued on Sunnyside Records. "Musings", produced by composer/ arranger Mike Holober, features 18 of the best musicians in New York City, many of whom play with or have played on albums by Maria Schneider, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Alan Ferber, Joel Harrison, Darcy James Argue, and with Ryan Truesdell's Gil Evans Project. The reed section features Dave Pietro, Ben Kono, Jason Rigby, Lucas Pino, and Brian Landrus. The brass section features the trumpets and flugelhorns of Tony Padlock, Jon Owens, Mat Jodrell and Matt Holman while the trombonists include the afore-mentioned Alan Ferber, Matt McDonald, Tim Albright and Max Seigel (bass 'bone). The rhythm section is top-notch with Pete McCann (electric & acoustic guitars), Frank Carlberg (piano, Fender Rhodes), John Hébert (acoustic & electric bass), and Mark Ferber (drums). Guests include Rogerio Boccato (percussion on 3 tracks) and the wordless vocals of Joy Lawry (4 tracks). Zuar not only arranged and conducted the ensemble but also composed 7 of the 8 songs, the exception being "7 Anéis" from the pen of Egberto Gismonti.
The exceptions are notable. The funky "Ha! (Joke's On You)", at times, resembles one of Thad Jones' piece but updated. Guitarist McCann stands out with his "wah-wah" accompaniment plus his blazing solo. Drummer Ferber, who definitely the driver of this band, gets a rollicking solo joined by the "shakers" of Boccatto and the "popping" electric bass, taking the song out on a raucous note. The drive and fire of "Vulnerable States" with its intense rhythms and shifting intensity, plus the use of Ms. Lawry's voice as the precursor to the horn arrangement, piano and alto sax solos (Ben Kono on alto), is adventurous, exciting, and rewarding. The short but lovely "Lonely Road" is a wondrous showcase for muted brass, flutes. clarinets, and Kono's handsome oboe playing.
"Musings" is quite the opening salvo for young Christopher Zuar. While one can certainly hear his various influences, one can also tell he has the intelligence and drive to continue to absorb the sounds of his mentors and make something new. This is a exciting debut that grows on the ears with each listen.
For more information, go to www.christopherzuar.com.
Here's the first track: