Glenn Ferris Italian Quintet ‘Animal Love’ 2x180g Vinyl (SoundScapes Media Group) 4/5

‘Animal Love’ by the Glenn Ferris Italian Quintet sees itself receive the vinyl treatment courtesy of the comparatively new record label SoundScapes Media. Founded by Paul Freudenberg, SoundScapes Media by design has geared their releases towards the ongoing rise of vinyl connoisseurs around the world and have subsequently introduced projects – or reintroduced projects in some cases – to excited new audiences. With a series of excellent releases already under their belt including the reissue of pianist Greg Spero’s ‘Acoustic’ album originally released in 2011 with drummer Makaya McCraven and bassist Matt Ulery. And from even further back is Irving Bush’s ‘Trumpet and Drum’ which is compiled from original master tapes recorded in 1975 and 1976. Each of the SoundScapes releases to date have had very distinctive and unique stories to tell which takes us to trombonist Glenn Ferris.

Born in Los Angeles in 1950, Ferris became smitten with the trombone from a very young age after seeing his uncle perform when he was eight years old. Having started playing with bands from a young age, as a session musician Ferris can cite having recorded or performed with some colossal names including Frank Zappa, James Taylor and Stevie Wonder – playing on the seminal ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’ no less.

Keen to develop his sound further and commit to his long-standing affections for Europe, Ferris eventually settled in Paris in the early 1980s and continued to develop his résumé as a part of revered European artists and collectives including Youssou N’Dour and Michel Petrucciani.

‘Animal Love’ however sees Ferris taking centre stage and helming his own – Italian – quintet of celebrated musicians. Joining Ferris on trombone is Mirco Mariottini on clarinet and bass clarinet, guitarist Giulio Stracciati, bassist Franco Fabbrini and Paolo Corsi on drums.

While Ferris and company are able to create heartfelt and sublime ballads, like the Mirco Mariottini penned ‘Five in China’ or ‘When The Night Turns Into Day’ the real joy of the album is found when celebrating its liberated – dare I say, more feral – tendencies. The albums opening title track, for example, masterfully captures a real unbridled passion in its performance that is incredibly infectious. Perhaps my earlier “feral” comment is slightly inspired by the track’s opening mix of howls and barks interspersed with Ferris’ trombone before Fabbrini’s bass leads us more formally into our jungle adventure. ‘W Ernest’, the album closer, acts as the album’s book-end with another of the energetic compositions that really soars.

An artist with the musical legacy of Glenn Ferris is absolutely worthy of having his music honoured in this context. SoundScapes, so early on their own path, have already amassed a series of great projects so we look forward to the future stories they’ll continue to help share. Go check it out here

Imran Mirza