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Podcast: Ben Ferris on collaboration and cohesion

The Madison jazz bassist’s quintet celebrates its debut album, “Home,” with a Dec. 16 show at Crescendo.

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The Ben Ferris Quintet are, from left to right, Ben Ferris, Paul Hastil, Paul Dietrich, Miguel McQuade, and Nicholas Bartell.

The Ben Ferris Quintet are, from left to right, Ben Ferris, Paul Hastil, Paul Dietrich, Miguel McQuade, and Nicholas Bartell.

One thing a lot of people don’t appreciate about jazz in Madison is that so many young musicians are in the mix keeping it interesting. One of them is bassist Ben Ferris. He graduated from UW-Madison in 2013 after studying under the great Richard Davis, and he currently plays in several bands around town. He also leads a couple of ensembles, and one of them, the Ben Ferris Quintet, is getting ready to release its first album, Home. It consists entirely of original compositions by Ferris and other members of the group.

The quintet—which also features Paul Dietrich on trumpet, Nicholas Bartell on sax, Paul Hastil on piano, and Miguel McQuade on drums—explores a range of moods and compositional and improvisational approaches on Home. Opener “Make Time” builds a nimble instrumental conversation around tightly paired sax and trumpet phrases, while “Another Choice” begins with a mournful bowed bass solo and proceeds to sprawl across 15 minutes of wide-open improvisation and abrupt emotional shifts. “Tabitha,” meanwhile, is a mournful yet strangely peaceful ballad.

The Ben Ferris Quintet will be celebrating the new album’s release with a show on December 16 at Crescendo on Monroe Street. Ahead of that, Ferris joined me for a conversation about the record. Give it a listen below.

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