October 19th, 2011
Earshot Jazz Festival 2011 moves on through the first week. Tonight I was blown away at the level and quality of the sound of the Avram Fefer Trio. Wow. Having seen him in Seattle over the past decade or so, I know Michael Bisio plays with a level of intensity but I was not familiar with Avram Fefer and his trio including Chad Taylor & Michael Bisio. These formidable New Yorkers output raw power. Praised by All About Jazz for his “undeniably spiritual feel for the music,” Avram Fefer took the stage with a formidable trio, featuring drummer Chad Taylor (known for his work with the Chicago Underground) and former Seattle bassist Michael Bisio (of the Matthew Shipp Trio). Fefer has led or co-led bands through ten highly regarded albums. With a distinctive voice on alto, tenor and soprano saxophones, as well as bass clarinet, he brings depth, intelligence and soulfulness to every situation he’s in. Tonight’s concert featured many selections from his latest release, Eliyahu (NotTwo Records, 2011), a fine collection of memorable and infectious compositions, brimming with improvisation and soulful grooves. (See who will be playing next in upcoming concerts in the Earshot Jazz Festival Schedule)
Fefer was born near San Francisco, but his family eventually settled in the Seattle area. After several years in the hands of inspirational high school jazz band director Leo Dodd, Fefer went on to receive a liberal arts degree at Harvard University and studied music at Berklee College and the New England Conservatory. He then moved to Paris, France (1990-95), where he began his career as a saxophonist, composer, bandleader and teacher. In Paris, he found many new sources of inspiration and growth, including a vibrant African and Arabic music scene and a wealth of American expatriate musicians.
His own bands were featured regularly in many of Paris’ top jazz clubs, and he performed with fellow ex-pats Jack Gregg, Bobby Few, Graham Haynes, Archie Shepp, Kirk Lightsey, Oliver Johnson, John Betsch, Sunny Murray and Rasul Siddik, among others. He is featured on diverse recordings, including by rap originators the Last Poets (Scatterap/Home), and with jazz legend Archie Shepp on drummer Steve McCraven’s Song of the Forest Boogeraboo.
Since moving to New York, Fefer has continued to indulge his passion for a wide variety of music but has particular success with the sax-bass-drum trio format and continues to use this as one of his primary musical vehicles. As a section player and soloist, Fefer has been featured in a number of large ensembles, including Adam Rudolph’s Organic Orchestra, the David Murray Big Band, Butch Morris Orchestra, Joseph Bowie Big Band, Mingus Big Band, Frank Lacy’s Vibe Tribe, and the Rob Reddy Octet. Fefer also has a thriving private teaching practice in downtown Manhattan. – Danielle Bias from Earshot Jazz Program in the Earshot Jazz Festival Schedule