Ferber takes full advantage of his ensemble's instrumentation, using his string orchestra for warm chorales in “Sedona” and “In Memoriam,” and for harmonic effects in “Ice Cave.” A fluttering violin solo on “Magnolia” rounds out the diverse use of strings, whose leavening presence is sometimes missed on the heavier nonet-only tunes.
Most compelling may be Ferber's setting of Jon Gordon's “Paradox,” which builds stuttering unison piano-bass lines over locomotive strings before passing its lyrical melody between pairings of saxophones, trombone, and guitar. Strings underscore dramatic shifts in harmony, and churn intensity into solo passages. Solo passages pass between saxophone, trombone, and trumpet at increasingly short intervals, a density- and tension-building device that serves Ferber well throughout the album.
As a trombonist, Ferber shows breadth. Contrast his thoughtful, well-paced solo on “Magnolia” with his brash meanderings on “Union Blues.” His largely modal, pentatonic sound is flavored with glissandi and the occasional growl, and contrasts well to the wider intervallic content of Jon Gordon and John Ellis.
To listeners interested in contemporary third stream, Music for Nonet and Strings provides another interesting specimen alongside such recent releases as John Hollenbeck's Eternal Interlude (in which Ferber also performs). Whether through Ferber's compositions or his improvising, the listener consistently encounters intelligent and persuasive voice.
May 4th, 2010 on Sunnyside Records
- Alan Ferber – trombone
- Scott Wendholt – trumpet
- Jon Gordon – alto & soprano saxophone
- John Ellis – tenor saxophone
- Douglas Yates – bass clarinet
- Nate Radley – guitar
- Bryn Roberts – piano
- Matt Clohesy – bass
- Mark Ferber – drums
- String Orchestra conducted by JC Sanford
- The River
- Ice Cave
- Union Blues
- In Memoriam