A Better Fate adds a new twist to a slightly eclectic sub genre branch of the jazz family tree. Acoustic fusion played by some of the finest young talent that New York has to offer and at an incredibly high level of proficiency. There is a subtle complexity here as the often organically based set seem to flow through the listener, not around them.
For nearly two decades Erhardt has worked as a jazz mercenary, a hired gun on saxophone, clarinet and flute and while I rarely put a tremendous amount of stock in the necessity of paying dues in most cases, clearly Erhardt is a cultural byproduct of his own experience. Erhardt's study and self exploration has led to some of the most original and compelling music of our day. Personal, a sonic exploratory and with an unbelievable polish we find Erhardt making a bold statement that will no doubt be turning some heads in short order.
Erhardt seems to relish working without a harmonic net while effortless shifting dynamics on the fly. There is a distinct harmonic influence drawn from modern jazz while sonic side roads taken include Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, rock oriented rhythms and the minimalist approach of a contemporary classical composer. "Liddle Rittle" has a delightful bass opening from Linda Oh and while embracing the more acoustic fusion side of the musical equation one can not help but become engaged in the complexity of shifting harmonics and odd but not inaccessible meter. One of the more evocative tunes on the release. "Ten Years" is another gem from "A Better Fate." With the polish and tenacity of a small jazz orchestra, Erhardt pushes the ensemble with a syncopated pop of bright forward motion. Jazz with a distinct lyrical purpose and direction. "Ten Years" has the ensemble dialed back slightly into a more ballad oriented tune with one foot squarey embracing the tradition of the past and the other foot seeking out firm footing for what may be just around the corner. Again, harmonic changes combined with artful dynamics place what is referred to as acoustic fusion in a genre all it's own.
Tired of commercial jazz? Looking for something more straight ahead but with a high level of musicianship that can embrace a more organic presentation? A Better Fate is a winner on all most every conceivable level!
Tracks: Liddle Rittle; Ambivalence; A Better Fate; Powwow Now; Ten Years; Dance Afar; Not Like Before; Tyler Park.
Personnel: Eric Erhardt: tenor saxophone, clarinet, flue; Russ Johnson; trumpet, flugelhorn; Sebastian Noelle: guitar; Mike Davis: drums; Linda Oh: bass; Nick Paul: piano; James Shipp: percussion; Dan Willis (4,8) soprano saxophone, oboe.