Glenn Ferris


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Glenn Ferris' trombone is distinguished by its sound: firm, confident, and rarely loud; and by his articulation: clean, distinct, and sometimes airy. The pianoless trio format is one that he often uses, and one that is one of the most difficult for trombonists, if only because the horn is so exposed, particularly at the generally low volume favored by Ferris. At this stage in his career, the trombonist seems to care little about the pyrotechnics pursued by some of his colleagues. His focus is on tone, breathing, melody, and clarity, all of which are mixed in a stew grown from a lightly swinging recipe. There is simplicity without being simplistic, as exemplified by the simple riffs on the catchy "Light'n Up," with its blues-drenched harmonies accenting very basic melodic snippets that only occasionally seem slightly drawn out. Ferris cleverly reinterprets Cole Porter's "I've Got You Under My Skin" with a muted poignancy, showing a side of the song rarely heard, and follows it with a calypso-infused and calculated original, "Happy Daze," that cleverly pairs the 'bone with Jeff Boudreaux's monochromatic, unruffled snares. The tune eventually picks up velocity if not volume, showing the trombonist's comfort in the lower range as well as a remarkable technique that eschews flamboyance if not pizzazz. Ferris' gentle attack makes him sound almost like a valve trombone at times, with a slightly fuzzy note placement that is alluringly subtle and sensual. There is an implicit though deceptively relaxed phrasing, and what Ferris achieves is rarely easy. He digs in with concentrated focus, pouring forth emotionally, with a European aesthetic that revels in nuance.