Saxophonist and bandleader Avram Fefer has been performing and recording internationally since 1990. After spending the decade as a soloist with a number of different groups, his 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, the Village Voice (New York), Cadence magazine, the Chicago Weekly Standard, and JazzPortugal. Now, in the spring of 2005, Fefer has four new releases to add to his body of recorded work.
The brand new Kindred Spirits and Heavenly Places (both Boxholder Records) document his ever-deepening musical relationship with piano legend Bobby Few. Though both recordings feature the duo of piano and saxophone, they present two very different aspects of the musicians' vocabulary and repertoire. Kindred Spirits presents a couple of originals alongside classics by Monk, Mingus and Ellington---displaying the duo's embrace of melody, whereas Heavenly Spirits catches them letting loose, with more room for development and improvisation. Accompanying the release of these two discs, Bobby Few will be coming to the states in May '05 and will join Avram on a 10-concert tour through the Northeast and Midwest.
Also just released, Painting Breath, Stoking Fire (CIMP) is Fefer's new CD featuring another duo---this time with virtuoso bassist and unsung hero, Michael Bisio. They perform a 58-minute, twelve part suite as a vehicle for improvisation and interaction of varying combinations of woodwinds and contrabass. Fefer plays, in order---alto flute, bass clarinet, clarinet, alto sax, and tenor sax as he accompanies Bisio on an extended, episodic tone poem. Fefer is also featured on Bisio's new quartet release, Connections (CIMP), where he is heard primarily on clarinet.
Avram Fefer was born near San Francisco, but his early years were also spent in Pittsburgh, Stockholm, and Washington D.C. before the family finally settled near Seattle, Washington. He received 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 established himself 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 jazz 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, Fefer's diverse musical interests have kept him busy. Unlike many musicians who tend to align themselves with one part of the music scene or another, Avram has spent much time developing a unique sound that crosses genres. The influence of Ornette Coleman and Miles Davis-inspired funk was evident in the band The Tone Poets, featuring the instrumental pyrotechnics of Reggie Washington, Dave Fiuczynski, Jonathan Crayford and Marlon Browden. His embrace of electronic, ambient, and drum 'n bass music was brought to bear 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 world music has been drawn upon in a variety great bands, including those of Cameroonian bassist Francis M'Bappe, ex-Fela drummer Tony Allen, Moroccan singer Abdeljalil Kodssi, and on the 2004 release, New Destiny , by the Afro-Hungarian jazz group, Dallam-Dougou.
As a section player and soloist, Fefer has been featured in a number of large ensembles, including 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 jazz compositions have been played by Roy Campbell, James Zollar, Curtis Fowlkes, Sean Conly, Ben Allison, William Parker, Tomas Ulrich, and Brad Jones, among many. He continues to perform with numerous jazz and new music ensembles as well as his own Afro-Latin band, Free Spirit.
His trio, with Chad Taylor on drums and Eric Revis on bass, was recently featured at the 2003 Montreal Jazz Festival, while his duo with pianist Bobby Few performed at the 2004 Free Music Festival in Antwerp, Belgium, and will be playing at the 2005 Burlington Jazz Festival in Vermont. 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 Casa del Popolo Festival in Montreal, the Willaimsburg Jazz Festival, and several others whose names he can't remember.
In addition to his life as a jazz musician, Avram greatly enjoys teaching music privately in downtown Manhattan and has collaborated on projects with dancers, poets, painters, and actors. He has also performed and/or composed scores for theater, television, film and computer-interactive media.