reviews for standing on a whalE Fishing for Minnows


James Emery: acoustic guitar, composer
Marty Ehrlich: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet & flute
Michael Formanek: bass   Gerry Hemingway: drums, vibes, marimba

TOP TEN CDs of 1997, JAZZIZ Magazine
TOP TEN CD, The Tracking Angle

by Bert Noglik
(four stars out of four)

“Sometimes it is chamber jazz, sometimes it is ballad mood, sometimes it is blues roots in modern music. Yet every time James Emery's quartet shines with an original, integrated group sound. Like the String Trio of New York he co-founded, the guitarist succeeds in something astonishing: shaping modernistic sound dimensions in an extraordinarily delightful way and making them accessible to a wider audience ...”

The Tracking Angle
by Carl Baugher

“The most consistently fascinating and virtuosic improvising guitarist in the world ... Fans of the String Trio of New York know about Emery's machine-gun improvising and cerebral compositions. Here with his own killer quartet, he's come up with the most stimulating set of his career. Mighty fine.”

Gitarre und Bass
by Lothar Trampert

“... This disc develops its own flair by contrasting a reliably swinging atmosphere to Marty Ehrlich's energetic, vibrant alto and James Emery's very acoustic, resonant guitar tone. Virtuosic and highly individual.”

Jazz Thing
by Ralf Dombrowski

“... He aims at a contemporary widening of the guitar's formal language. ... "Standing on a Whale..." is a surprising album in many ways, presenting, developing and integrating a considerable spectrum of modern-style facets of expression ranging from blues to free. ... Hard stuff! Listen to it several times, then enjoy it!”

by Arne Schumacher
(four stars out of four)

“... It seems that in this production Emery has deliberately reflected his complete potential of expression. ... A program like this demands more than just average flexibility. Ehrlich, Formanek and Hemingway are probably the ideal personnel, and being a team of leaders out of New York's creme of experienced ensemble players, the results are high-class.”

Jazz Podium
by Benno Bartsch

“... In his fingers he focuses the tradition of the guitar as a whole, creating up-to-date and swinging forms of modern jazz with a brilliant technique. ... Although Emery is stylistically unmistakable, his works show great variety. Braxton-like compositions with angular intervals, sweeping asymmetrical themes or collective improvisations take turns with deep-felt ballads and earthy blues.”

IAJRC Journal 

“Standing on a Whale Fishing for Minnows is the wonderful title of a disc by guitarist James Emery. The music is muscular free-bop riding on Gerry Hemingway's energized drumming and enlivened by Emery's spiky and lopsided tunes. For contrast there are more relaxed passages, like "Strings of Thread", with Hemingway doubling vibes on a decidedly foolish theme. There are also 2 strategically placed solo guitar tracks, a tender version of Monk's "Crepuscule With Nellie" at the halfway point, and the closing "Poetry in Stillness" played as a warm-up and not originally intended for the disc. Standing on a Whale Fishing for Minnows is an excellent release, worthy of repeated listening as this well-matched quartet attacks the material. Seriously recommended.”