After a seven-year recording hiatus, Ehrlich's Travelers Tale quartet revives the spirit of that band with new material and a couple of older faves. Fellow saxophonist Tony Malaby, electric bass guitarist Jerome Harris, and drummer Bobby Previte are in the fold for these highlights of a four-day club date at the Knitting Factory/NYC. Except for the Julius Hemphill post-bop cartoonish, off-kilter harmonic line "Pigskin" with Harris's two-note bass and Bob Dylan's pop ballad alto feature for the leader "Tears of Rage," this is a program of Ehrlich's original, modern creative music. A boppish paeon to Ornette Coleman "Rhymes" kicks off the date, with the two saxes separate and equal. "Story" lines from the soprano (Ehrlich)/tenor (Malaby) front lines with an ostinato bass groove weave through the intricate title track for Malinke Elliott, spaced alto and soprano unison lines swim in funky or swinging marinade during a recapitulation of "North Star," while Ehrlich's signature pungent alto leads Malaby's agreeable tenor in the free, open terrain, traded extended lines of "Line on Love." Based on the changes of "I Remember You" is "Bright Remembered," a solo alto line building with bass, then drums popping and swinging on snare as Malaby decides to go for it as well. Ehrlich's most memorable writing is heard on "The Cry Of," as churning hand drums with ostinato bass in measures of repeated five's and four's extend an invitation to Ehrlich's flute and Malaby's tenor in a mysterious Middle Eastern feel, a rather calmed swirling dervish. The familiar but modified "Willy Whippoorwill" tacks on "Steals a Bow," merging from visceral funk to free bridge squawking, a 6/8 counterpoint section, 4/4 unison, and a reggae feel. Ehrlich continues to assert himself as a premier purveyor of current-day jazz, and this is another clear example of his high status in this modern age. Recommended.
Malinke's Dance Review
by Michael G. Nastos