Marty Ehrlich is celebrating more than 40 years at the nexus of creative music centered in New York City. He began his musical career in St. Louis, performing and recording with the Human Arts Ensemble. He then graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston in 1977, where his teachers included George Russell, Jaki Byard, Gunther Schuller, and Joseph Allard. Since coming to New York in 1978, he has made 30 recordings of his compositions written for his Dark Woods Ensemble, Traveler’s Tales Quartet, Rites Quartet, Marty Ehrlich Large Ensemble, as well as numerous collaborative groups. His most recent recordings are A Trumpet in the Morning, for 26 musicians, and Trio Exaltation, with John Hebert and Nasheet Waits.
As a woodwind multi-instrumentalist passionate about improvisation and interpretation, he has performed, toured, and recorded with a who’s who of contemporary composers including Muhal Richard Abrams, Ray Anderson, Anthony Braxton, John Carter, Andrew Cyrille, Jack DeJohnette, Anthony Davis, Mark Dresser, Peter Erskine, Marianne Faithful, Michael Formanek, Don Grolnick, Chico Hamilton, Julius Hemphill, Andrew Hill, Wayne Horvitz, Robin Holcomb, Oliver Lake, Leroy Jenkins, John Lindberg, Myra Melford, Modeski/Martin/Woods, James Newton, Mario Pavone, Bobby Previte, Rufus Reid, David Schiff, Wadada Leo Smith, and John Zorn.
Ehrlich has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony, the New York City Opera, and other classical ensembles. He was the musical director of the Julius Hemphill Sextet from 1996-2006. He is the chief researcher for the Julius Hemphill Archive at NYU and has curated and produced the recent Hemphill archival release The Boyé’ Multi-National Crusade for Harmony on New World Records. His honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship in Composition, the Peter Ivers Visiting Artist Residency at Harvard University (with painter Oliver Jackson), composition grants from Chamber Music America, the NEA, and NYFA, and a Distinguished Alumni award from NEC. The Marty Ehrlich Archive is in the Fales Library of NYU. Ehrlich is professor emeritus of jazz and contemporary music at Hampshire College.
In residence in 2021, Marty generated a wide range of musical material for use by his small ensemble performances, and for an evolving solo work for overdubbed woodwinds and soloist. He continued work on edited, critical editions of the music of Julius Hemphill, which will be published by Subito Music Publishing. As performance and recording contexts come back to the fore after the Covid quarantine, he expects to be energized and ready for the work ahead.
Portrait by Erika Kapin