Multireedist Marty Ehrlich is one of New York City's most valuable players. Born and bred in St. Louis, Ehrlich may be best known for collaborating with Muhal Richard Abrams, George Russell, Anthony Braxton, Myra Melford, John Zorn and the late John Carter. He also leads his own Dark Woods Ensemble and the Julius Hemphill Sextet, which keeps alive the music of his beloved mentor. "One of our most thoughtful improvisers" (Down Beat) who is "making some of the smartest music around" (New Yorker), Ehrlich works with artists as different as the avantgardistic New York Composers Orchestra and swing players like Randy Sandke and Ken Peplowski. His last release on ENJA, the trio Relativity, received top ratings everywhere including four stars from Down Beat (February 2000) and was among The New Yorker's favorites from 1999 (January 2000). Beside Ehrlich's long-term association with ENJA that started back in 1987, he recently could also be heard with his Travelers Tales band and the trio CDE.
The music heard on "Song" was recorded directly after Ehrlich's quartet finished a week-long run at Sweet Basil in New York City. Featuring pianist Uri Caine (who is best known for his much-disputed Mahler projects) and trombonist Ray Anderson (on Ehrlich's musical portrait of the late Julius Hemphill only), the music is fired by the passion and wisdom of everyone involved. Ehrlich sees his new album as a meditation on the power of song's simplicity. Beside original works by the bandleader and the late Jaki Byard (another mentor of Ehrlich's) that are ripe to have words put to their songlike movement, Ehrlich chose actual songs by such as Bob Dylan and Robin Holcomb displaying his rare talent for personalizing the material of others by deepening its emotions. "When one arrives at the point in jazz where the song comes to an agreement with jazz's complexities, where a certain emotional truth becomes worth underlining and fighting for, then something has actually happened" (Peter Watrous).