Professor of Jazz and Contemporary Music
Marty Ehrlich brings a wealth of musical experience as a composer, performer, ensemble leader, and creative collaborator to his teaching work at Hampshire. He has been centered in New York City since 1978, performing internationally with his diverse ensembles. His compositions are represented on 30 different recordings of these groups, including the recent "A Trumpet In the Morning" for Jazz Orchestra on New World Records.
As a multi-instrumentalist passionate about improvisation and interpretation, he has performed with a who’s who of contemporary composers including Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Braxton, Jack DeJohnette, Anthony Davis, Mark Dresser, Chico Hamilton, Julius Hemphill, Andrew Hill, Robin Holcomb, Myra Melford, George Russell, and John Zorn. He appears on more than 100 recordings with these and other composers.
Ehrlich's work moves across historical styles and cultural boundaries, with an active engagement with other artistic mediums. Ehrlich has performed with the Chicago Symphony, the BBC Symphony, the New York City Opera, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Chamber Music Northwest, and other classical ensembles. He has toured with the Jose Limón and Bill T. Jones dance companies, among others. His honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship in Composition, the Peter Ivers Visiting Artist Residency at Harvard University, composition grants from Chamber Music America, the NEA, and NYFA, “Clarinetist of the Year” from the Jazz Journalist Association, and a Distinguished Alumni award from the New England Conservatory of Music, from which he graduated in 1977.
This ensemble course will jump into the wide road of the African-American music continuum at the whistle stops commonly called Jazz, Blues, and Funk. As musical artists, we will look to meet its rigorous standards of performance practice. We will perform repertoire from the historical breadth of the music. This ensemble course requires weekly practice outside of the class meeting, individually and in groups, as well as reading, listening, and written assignments. We will present a concert of our work at the end of the semester. This course is open to all instrumentalists and singers. The final instrumentation of the ensemble will be determined after the first class. Course Objectives: To celebrate the great creativity of the artists who have trail blazed African-American music. To engage with their critical thoughts as artists, and to understand the contexts their work was created in. To deepen our skills as improvisers and musical interpreters. To deepen our skills as ensemble musicians. To make a powerful ensemble for public performance.
From a never ending creative engagement with the Blues legacy of African American music, jazz composers have reshaped the possibilities of composition and improvisation from the early 20th century till the present moment. The class works on two concurrent tracks. We will look at the way these composers engage with the blues sensibility and with improvisational forms within their compositional approaches, taking a wide historical view. We will also work each week on a series of shared compositional assignments. Each student will create a final extended form work, to be presented in an in-class performance. We will write primarily on the instrumentation of the class, as well as for invited artists.
Collective improvisation is a powerful creative methodology in music making. Its roots go deep in the history of African-American culture, and its practitioners in our time are abundant across countries and cultures. This course will celebrate its use in creating artistic, political, and spiritual community, while taking a rigorous approach to exploring its aesthetic possibilities. The IOC is open to all instrumentalists, including voice and electronics. We welcome students from diverse musical lineages and experiences. The course requires weekly rehearsals outside of class with small groups, weekly listening and reading with periodic papers, and a commitment to weekly individual instrumental work. We work each week as a full orchestra, and will present a final concert of our work at the end of the semester.
This class builds upon the work done in Tonal Theory I. We will continue the process of understanding and using basic chromatic harmony, in ways connected to both Jazz and Classical music continuums. Composition assignments will be included along the way as we assimilate new theoretical knowledge. We will look to enrich how we hear musical language, and how we understand musical syntax, where form and language intersect. The course involves weekly homework of an additive nature, periodic quizzes for diagnostic purposes, listening and concert assignments, and two final composition projects.
This semester, our ensemble course will jump into the wide road of the African-American music continuum at the whistle stops commonly called Funk and Rhythm and Blues. As musical artists, we will look to meet its rigorous standards of performance practice. From there, we will look at the connections, the ways this philosophy of the groove has informed so much spiritual, political, and cultural creativity in America and across the world. This ensemble course includes weekly practice, individual and in groups, as well as readings and written assignments. We will present a concert at the end of the semester. This course is open to all instrumentalists and singers. There will be an informal audition for the ensemble the Tuesday before the first day of classes.