||At Dr. King's Table
Marty Ehrlich, alto sax, soprano sax, flute, alto flute, clarinet, bass clarinet; Sam Furnace, alto sax, soprano sax; Andy Laster, alto sax, flute; Gene Ghee, tenor sax; Andrew White, tenor sax; Alex Harding, baritone sax
The sixteen pieces given rousing interpretations on At Dr. Kings Table are among those that the late
Julius Hemphill never got around to recording himself. They are further proof (if proof is needed) that Hemphill was undoubtedly one of the most important and innovative of jazz composers of the post-war era-incorporating the expanded rhythmic and harmonic possibilities of free jazz into richly textured compositions for saxophone ensemble. Of course, chez Hemphill, the blues and gospel are the bedrock from which all of his deeply spiritual music springs. Just listen to What I Know Now, a gorgeous ballad of ineffable eloquence.
Ehrlich and the others certainly capture the romping spirit of Hemphills music, a central tenet of which (as with much of the most creative music of the last twenty years) was that interpretation can be as effective a vehicle for self-expression as improvisation. In doing such justice to Hemphill-in recognizing his mother wit along with his harmonic sophistication-his former band-members have also done themselves proud.