A Trumpet in the Morning
Multi-reedist Marty Ehrlich has won awards for his playing, but you won’t hear much of it on A Trumpet in the Morning. Instead we get Ehrlich in composer mode, conducting a 24-piece jazz orchestra for his most ambitious album to date. Bookended by a brief prelude and postlude, the album's heart is four lengthy pieces. The title track was inspired by a poem of the same name written by Arthur Brown (here read with passion by J.D. Parran, who also solos on bass saxophone). It shifts between horn textures and some freewheeling interaction with Parran. Ehrlich is a versatile player who usually stays in the jazz idiom, so it comes as a pleasant surprise to hear him channeling the blues on the insistent “Blues for Peace” and roots music for “Rundowns and Turnbacks,” with fine work from guitarist Jerome Harris and trombonists Curtis Folkes and Ray Anderson. Points also go for expertly balancing the strengths of his players with his compositional needs: Ehrlich provides enough melody, narrative threads, and dynamic range to make even the longer pieces a fast and enjoyable listen.