Martin Lewis Ehrlich, 31 May 1955, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. Ehrlich was raised in various parts of the Midwest but it was in St. Louis, Missouri, that he developed his interest in music. He started out on clarinet, gradually adding other reed instruments and also the flute. He had begun playing professionally while still a high school student, with the Human Arts Ensemble, but it was mainly through his exposure to the Black Artists Group of St. Louis that the young musicians concepts were formed. He studied at various colleges, including the New England Conservatory. In the 70s, he was active with many jazz musicians, predominantly those working in the field of free music that had made its first impact late in the previous decade. Among the artists with whom he worked and studied, were Muhal Richard Abrams, Ran Blake, Jaki Byard, George Russell, Gunther Schuller and Leo Smith. In 1978, Ehrlich joined Chico Hamiltons group and became a regular in Russells New York Big Band.
Throughout the 80s, he played in many groups, including those led by Abrams, Byard, Anthony Braxton, Julius Hemphill and Oliver Lake. He also played in bands led by John Carter, including appearing on the series of albums that housed Roots And Folklore: Episodes In The Development Of American Folk Music. Ehrlich also worked with Wayne Horvitz, John Zorn and Butch Morris. He led his own groups from 1988, including a trio with Pheeroan Ak Laff and bass player Anthony Cox, and his larger group, the Dark Woods Ensemble. He also co-led a quartet with Bobby Previte. In the 90s, he was active with his own bands and also appeared in duo format, sometimes on record, with artists such as Abrams and bass players Cox and John Lindberg. His late 90s trio teamed him with Michael Formanek and Peter Erskine. He has recently worked and recorded with Uri Caine, Mark Dresser, Billy Drummond and Andrew Cyrille.
Although adept at all the instruments he plays, Ehrlich continued to favour the clarinet, and its darker-voiced cousin the bass clarinet, finding rich yet subtle voicings in his always interesting explorations along and across the boundaries of jazz and other forms of contemporary improvised music. Ehrlich is also a gifted composer and is especially adept at writing for contemporary big bands. Although dedicated to the advancement of music, Ehrlichs playing and writing clearly demonstrate his interest in and knowledge of the origins of jazz and beyond.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.