Up High, Down Low

SSC1694 2023-07-21

Track List

Up High, Down Low - 7:07
Brimstone Boogaloo - 6:18
Ambling - 7:06
The More I See You - 7:10
In Hindsight - 7:37
Cherokee Louise - 6:36
Violet Soul - 5:18
Day Breaks - 6:40
Ice Fall - 6:39


Alan Ferber - trombone
Scott Wendholt - trumpet - fluegelhorn
Jon Gordon - alto saxophone
John Ellis - tenor saxophone
Chris Cheek - baritone saxophone
Nir Felder - guitar
David Cook - piano, organ, keyboard
Matt Clohesy - acoustic - electric bass
Mark Ferber - drums, percussion
Charles Pillow - clarinet, bass clarinet, alto sax, alto flute
Daniel Diaz - percussion

Up High, Down Low, Alan Ferber’s fifth studio album for his ongoing nonet of 20 years, continues his quest to synthesize soulful melodicism, rhythmic interplay, and resonant voicings with the ever-evolving musical elements that he absorbs as an active player, composer, and producer both inside and outside of New York’s jazz scene.

Over the past two decades, Ferber has become one of New York’s most sought after player-composers. He regularly collaborates on projects for forward-thinking bandleaders such as John Hollenbeck, Miguel Zenon, Darcy James Argue, Dafnis Prieto, and Toshiko Akiyoshi, as well as artists working outside of jazz including indie rock bands San Fermin, The National, Sufjan Stevens, and Bang a Can's Asphalt Orchestra. As a mentor, Ferber co-directs the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, a well-regarded incubator for jazz composers in NYC, and teaches composition and arranging at Montclair State University and NYU. As a trombonist, Ferber topped the 2022 Downbeat Rising Star Critics’ Poll.

The pandemic’s arrival in 2020 led Ferber and his family to move to St. Louis, Missouri near his wife’s family, where they would end up staying for close to two years before returning. The collection of music on this new album was crafted there with his longtime nonet colleagues in mind. For Ferber, the best prescription for dealing with the social deprivation of the pandemic was to think about these close colleagues, to imagine their sounds and musical personalities, and create new music for them. Careful consideration of every interlocking line of counterpoint proved therapeutic, and Ferber crafted these scores as vehicles for his collaborators to express themselves soulfully within and around the written lines, allowing for a satisfying balance of ensemble cohesion and improvisatory freedom.

When restrictions lifted enough to gather, he reached out to local players in the St. Louis area to workshop the music. As luck would have it, Ferber discovered that the great saxophonist Chris Cheek was also residing in St. Louis, leading to a major change for Ferber’s instrumentation—the replacement of the bass clarinet with the baritone saxophone. With help from the local St. Louis bassist, Bob Deboo, the band began performing semi-regularly at a venue called The Dark Room. These gigs provided a litmus test for not only the music’s playability, but for how these new sounds connected with live audiences in the area. His interactions and invaluable feedback from these experiences have evolved into continuing performance engagements in the Midwest.

Upon returning to New York in 2022, Alan’s NY Nonet further developed the pieces at Smalls Jazz Club. With identical twins Alan and Mark Ferber setting the core framework, longtime collaborators Scott Wendholt, John Ellis, Jon Gordon, Nir Felder, David Cook, Chris Cheek, Charles Pillow, and Matt Clohesy convened to record the album in early July 2022 at Big Orange Sheep Studio in Brooklyn.