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Marty Ehrlich/Peter Erskine/Michael Formanek, Relativity (61:46)
Enja ENJ-9341 2, 1999
Enja Records
P.O. Box 19 03 33
D-80603 Munich, Germany
Cyberhome: www.enjarecords.com

        The names alone recommend this CD. Multi-woodwind maven Marty Ehrlich 
has long been a fixture of New York's downtown avant-garde circle. 
Peter Erskine was a superstar fusion drummer in the 70s and 80s and 
remains a very important jazz voice, steadily developing his 
capabilities as a straightahead/free player and composer. Michael 
Formanek, a quiet presence on the straightahead scene for many years, 
is becoming increasingly known as a top-flight player and leader.
	This heavy-hitting trio is known as Relativity, and its debut 
release is alternately meditative and explosive. The idiom is free 
jazz, but the program is exceptionally varied and well-paced, 
demonstrating that a wide variety of feels and moods can fall under 
the "free" umbrella. Formanek's "Incident at Harpham Flat" opens the 
disc with a hip melodic figure doubled by bass and sax which takes 
flight as a steadily rolling, groove-based improvisation. Erskine's 
"Eloi Lament" begins with hypnotic rhythmic counterpoint and eases 
into medium swing, reminding me of Dave Holland's late 80s work with 
Steve Coleman and Jack DeJohnette.
	"Lucky Life" by Ehrlich and "Relativo" by Erskine both hint 
at calypso, but the former is an extended exploration while the 
latter is a short-and-sweet melodic snapshot. Solid swing tempos 
prevail on Ehrlich's "The Pivot" and Formanek's "Holy Waters," both 
of which feature the strongest bass solos on the record. "Round the 
Four Corners" and "Jiggle the Handle," by Ehrlich and Formanek 
respectively, illustrate the trio's mellower side, although 
Formanek's tune gets into some free tenor screaming once the 
laid-back 5/4 melody is stated.
	"Taglioni," by the late Don Grolnick, was played by a larger 
ensemble on Grolnick's Weaver of Dreams (Blue Note, 1989). 
Relativity's version is an elongated yet stripped-down reading of the 
rubato melody, giving the composition a striking clarity and 
elegance. And closing the album is Formanek's beautiful "In A Child's 
Eyes," the main groove of which is built around a bar of three and a 
bar of five. The resulting count of eight gives the ear a fleeting 
illusion of 4/4 time despite the odd meter.
	Ehrlich, Erskine, and Formanek each bring a different 
compositional voice to the session, but they manage to tie it all 
together with compelling and compatible instrumental approaches. It's 
a satisfying brew.
~David R. Adler, 12/28/99

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