"It's a relatively rare occurrence when an ensemble or individual rises to the top with something to say or a way of saying it that stands definitively apart. To my ears the Avram Fefer Trio belongs in this category." Derek Taylor (OneFinalNote.com)
"Possessed of an undeniably spiritual feel for the music, Avram Fefer understands the importance of percussion for connecting with the human pulse, as well as the use of horn lines to express what the heart, in all of its complexity, feels." Don Williamson (AllAboutJazz.com)
"Fefer is definitely fashioning an unshakable identity." Ken Waxman (JazzWeekly.com)
Avram Fefer is a musical force to be reckoned with. He has led or co-led bands through ten highly regarded albums, and contributed to many more as a sideman. With a distinctive voice on alto, tenor, and soprano saxophones, as well as Bb and bass clarinet, he brings depth, intelligence, and soulfulness to every situation he's in. These include performances and recordings of straight-ahead and avant-garde jazz, as well as jazz-funk, West-African, modern orchestral music, and free jazz. His latest release, Eliyahu (NotTwo Records 2011), brings these varied passions and explorations into a beautiful unity, resulting in perhaps his best album yet.
Eliyahu (NotTwo Records 2011) is his tenth release as a leader and features his trio with long-time collaborators --- bassist Eric Revis and drummer Chad Taylor. Building on the strength of their previous release, Ritual ( Clean Feed Records 2009), Eliyahu brings their diverse influences together in a powerfully moving way that reinforces the group's status as one of the scene's preeminent sax-bass-drum trios. The compositions are memorable and infectious, yet brimming with improvisation. They feature deep and soulful groove, distinctive individual musicianship and sophisticated group interplay, resulting in an album that is both accessible and rewarding to the listener.
The release of Eliyahu will be celebrated on May 9th, 2011 with a CD Release Show in New York City, followed by tours in Europe (May 25th to June 3rd) and North America ( October 17th to 21st).
Their previous release, Ritual (Clean Feed Records 2009), featured original compositions as well as group improvisations, and received rave reviews:
"The fire ignited by saxophonist Avram Fefer is fresh, yet it sounds as eternal as all things avant in jazz... a stellar example of the trio tradition.
Fefer's varied experience, be it playing hypnotic West African traditional music or electro-acoustic trip-hop, informs his highly developed sense of swing. His coiled phrasing lends these propulsive excursions an infectious, groove-oriented focus.” (Allaboutjazz.com)
“Ear-grabbing work from this killer trio.
...has a sense of groove that's undeniable…. drawn-out, soulful explorations that ring out with a sense of freedom and an inherent swing”
“This is great new jazz. What else is there to say?”
"Fefer leads a scalding trio on this disc.
There was a raw and palpable sense that the musicians were reaching for something special. All three musicians worked together, supporting each other and combing their talents in pursuit of a common goal.”
Fefer's first several recordings as a leader were singled out as among the Best of 2001 and Best of 2002 in publications such as Downbeat Magazine, Cadence magazine, the Village Voice, the Chicago Weekly Standard, and JazzPortugal. His debut release, Calling All Spirits, Calling All Poets (Cadence Records 2001) immediately caught the jazz world's attention, garnering accolades from the press and presaging the strong musical presence to follow:
"True surprises in jazz may be rare these days, but the Avram Fefer Trio's ability to upset the status quo seems like a sure thing."
Derek Taylor (OneFinalNote.com)
In addition to his trio, he has maintained and nourished several productive long-term musical collaborations:
* His four releases with 75 year old piano legend Bobby Few ( Sanctuary , Kindred Spirits , Heavenly Places , Few and Far Between ) received both critical acclaim and international radio play, leading to several successful tours and a lasting musical partnership. Live and on record, these two consistently reconcile their mastery of the jazz tradition with their embrace of the avant-garde to create performances full of emotional power and musical sophistication.
* He has been a member of the extraordinary quartet of bass phenom Michael Bisio (bassist of the Matt Shipp Trio) since 2004, recording four highly regarded CD's ( Connections , AM , Circle This , Live at Vision Festival XII ) and delivering powerful performances in the U.S. and abroad, most notably at the Vision Festival XII (in NYC) and the CIMP Festival (in Villach, Austria).
* His inventive musicianship has also been noted and consistently tapped by bassist and composer Adam Lane in various forms, from trios and quartets to octets and big bands. Their recent CD's together include Ashcan Rantings (Clean Feed Records) and The Blue Spirit Band (CIMP).
* Greg Tate's Burnt Sugar has employed Avram's creative attributes to astonishing effect on numerous recordings and performances, as well as on several tours in the states and abroad. Recently, he acted and played tenor sax in award-winning director Melvin Van Peebles' theatrical production of Sweet Sweetbacks Baaadaaaas Song. Their performance in Paris can be viewed here.
* Avram's 6-piece psychedelic jazz-funk band, Electric Kool-Aid, has recently been wowing audiences all over Manhattan and will be going into the studio soon to record a much-anticipated debut album. Featuring original compositions and improvisations by some of NYC’s most creative groove players, the music has a variety of influences, including Ornette Coleman’s Primetime, Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, Moroccan Gnawa music, and Stanley Turrentine.
Avram Fefer was born near San Francisco, but his family then moved to Stockholm (Sweden), Pittsburgh PA, and Washington D.C. before finally settling near Seattle, Washington. After several years in the hands of inspirational high school jazz band director Leo Dodd, Avram went on to receive a liberal arts degree at Harvard University and studied music at Berklee College and New England Conservatory. He then moved to Paris, France (1990-95) where he began his career as a saxophonist, composer, bandleader and teacher.
Paris offered 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 the city's 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 played in countries in Europe, Africa and the Mideast and 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 [World McC Music]. He was also one of the founding members and featured soloists of the French 'acid-jazz' group, Beigels Daisy Toasts, recording two top-selling CD's for Virgin Records in 1994 and 95.
Since moving to New York, Avram has continued to indulge his passion for a wide variety of music while developing a unique sound that crosses genres. He has always loved the sax-bass-drum trio format (as demonstrated on several of his recordings) and continues to use this as one of his primary musical vehicles. The influence of Ornette Coleman and Miles Davis-inspired funk was evident in his band The Tone Poets (featuring the instrumental pyrotechnics of Reggie Washington, Dave Fiuczynski, Jonathan Crayford and Marlon Browden) and, more recently, with his latest project, Electric Kool-Aid. His embrace of trip-hop, jungle, and drum 'n bass was on display in the groups Squelch and Auto*Dope, both of which featured extensive improvisation, groove, and the unique tape manipulations of Bruce Grant (Huge Voodoo). His love of North and West African music has been drawn upon in a variety of great bands, including those of Cameroonian bassist Francis M'Bappe, ex-Fela drummer Tony Allen, Moroccan singer Abdeljalil Kodssi, balifonist Famoro Diabate, and on the 2004 release, New Destiny , by the world's only Afro-Hungarian jazz group, Dallam-Dougou.
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.
His trio with Taylor and Revis on was featured at the Montreal Jazz Festival, while his duo with pianist Bobby Few
performed at the Free Music Festival in Antwerp, Belgium and at the Burlington Jazz Festival in Vermont. Other past festival performances include the JVC Jazz Festival at Carnegie Hall, the Heineken Jazz Festival, the
Verizon Jazz Festival, the Knitting Factory What is Jazz Festival, the Tel-Aviv Jazz Festival, the Williamsburg Jazz Festival, and the Casa del Popolo Festival in Montreal, among others.
Avram has a thriving private teaching practice in downtown Manhattan and has collaborated on projects with dancers, poets, painters, and actors and has also performed and/or composed for theater, television, film and computer-interactive media.
David Murray Big Band, Archie Shepp, Graham Haynes, The Last Poets, Barry Altschul, Sunny Murray, Kelvyn Bell, William Parker, Bobby Few, Fred Hopkins, Saul Williams, ReggieWashington, Butch Morris Orchestra, David Gilmore, David Fiuczynski, Dougie Bowne, Ben Allison, Steve McCraven, Frank Lacy, Jay Clayton, Newman Baker, Horace Parlan, Brandon Ross, Essiet Essiet, Art Sound Orchestra, Alan Silva, Dennis Charles, Matt Wilson, James Hurt, John Betsch, Roy Campbell, JJ Avenal, Cheik Tidiane Seik, Joseph Bowie Big Band, Paulo Fresu, Brise Wassy, Jack Gregg, Alain Jean-Marie, Kaissa Doumbe, Nat Reeves, Jeff Tain Watts, Karl Berger, Kirk Lightsey, Francis M'bappe, Tony Allen, Michael Bisio, Herb Robertson, Steve Swell, Famoro Diabate, Abou Sylla, Abdoulaye Diabate, Mark Helias, Cyril Atef, Vincent Segal.