Alan Ferber: Chamber Songs: Music for Nonet and Strings (2010)
Ferber's musichis Chamber Songsare not uniquely inventive in form, but what the composer does so well is create swelling, swinging music within the traditional, ten-part song and in the 32-bar format as well. All his introductions are dramatica collision of twisting melody, richly endowed with irreverent harmonicsand create such suspense that when the downbeat arrives there is a shock, a surprise in the form of, say primordial polyrhythmic thunder, as in "Ice Cave," where the other Ferber, drummer, Mark Ferber performs with fiendish beauty to drive the song onward. On "Union Blues," a chart that could well be the composer's tribute to Charles Mingus '50s long form music, Alan Ferber introduces the complete ensemble by interlocking the blues stanzas, while various aspects of the tonal canvas are unveiled as the song progresses. Throughout the album, especially on "Sedona," the composer's skill in interpreting the ultimate sound of horns and writing perfect material for reeds, woodwinds and brass is manifest.
The album unfolds like a dramatic large canvas, a mural of music perhaps. With each song, the instrumentsespecially the nine-piece string sectiondaub the fabric of the music with spectacular color. The magnificent conclusion of "Sedona" is a case in point. But it is "In Memoriam" where it all comes together in a fine melange. The majesty of the molten brass and breathless woodwinds together with the elemental sadness of the strings meld into a breathtakingly fine mixture, its grains so completely ground that it drives the narrative into a seamless song of exquisite finality.
Alan Ferber's nine Chamber Songs: Music for Nonet and Strings has outstanding character. His style is painterly and he is unafraid to tackle the dense coloration that comes with the mixing of dramatically opposite tonal landscapesstrings opposing brass and woodwinds. Rather he makes the most of diametrically opposed tonal palettes with devastatingly beautiful effect on the nine charts on this memorable album.
Track Listing: The River; Interlude; Paradox; Magnolia; Fables; Ice Cave; Union Blues; Sedona; In Memoriam.
Personnel: Alan Ferber: trombone; Scott Wendholt: trumpet; Jon Gordon: alto, soprano saxophone; John Ellis: tenor saxophone; Doug Yates: bass clarinet; Nate Radley: guitar; Bryn Roberts: piano; Matt Clohesy: bass; Mark Ferber: drums; Zach Brock: violin; Olivia de Prato: violin; Sara Caswell: violin; Leena White: violin; Corrina Albright: viola; Victor Lowrie: viola; Jody Redhage: cello; Maria Jeffers: cello; Ike Strum: bass; JC Sanford: conductor.
Record Label: Sunnyside Records
Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde