Half Notes: The Ray Anderson-Marty Ehrlich Quartet – Hear You Say: Live In Willisau (2010)

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by S. Victor Aaron

Even on an ode to a fallen friend (“Portrait Of Leroy Jenkins”) and the chromatic ballad (“My Wish”) they pour on the intensity, but get downright giddy on harder tunes like “Hot Crab Pot,” a song that boils over with as much intensity as the title suggests. “Alligatory Rhumba” is a delightful Cuban party song built from a Latin dance rhythm that the Brad Jones (bass)/Matt Wilson (drums) rhythm section — no, there’s no piano — devises, and Anderson and Ehrlich are practically dancing all over it. The rapport, heck, more like the involved conversation between these two is the product of more than 30 years of playing together off and on, since they both found themselves in Anthony Braxton’s band in 1978. For these seven originals written by either one or the other, the sounds of old school jazz horns like a trombone and clarinet suggest trad jazz but the barely contained way they go about expressing themselves hint at whack jazz. The resulting hybrid can only be called “fun jazz.”

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