Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Fefer, Avram (Klane)
Fefer, Avram (Klane), saxophonist, composer, teacher; b. San Francisco, CA, 9 June 1964. His family lived in California, Pittsburgh, Maryland and Sweden before settling in Seattle, WA in 1968 where his father, Dr. Alexander Fefer (b. 1938 in Vilnius, Lithuania) became professor of Immunology, specializing in cancer research. His mother, Thea Wornick (b. 1938 in Malden, Mass) worked off and on as a high school math teacher and his brother (Mark David, b. 1964 in Pittsburgh), after quitting professional jazz drumming due to ear problems, works as arts and culture editor for the Seattle Weekly.
Avram began playing clarinet in the school band at age 8, taking private lessons throughout his junior high and high school years, adding alto sax to his instrumental arsenal and beginning to play in the school jazz band at age 14. By senior year of high school, his director (Leo Dodd) had switched him to tenor and turned him on to his first major influence, Stanley Turrentine. He played lead tenor in the group, winning several soloist awards at high school jazz contests and All-state tenor sax award for the state of Washington in 1978.
Though originally pre-med, he studied liberal arts at Harvard University and majored in psychology (BA cum laude 1982). Discovering the music of Sonny Rollins and performing in numerous funk and R 'n B groups on campus, he was also part of a special performers class (1978-79) which included master workshops and playing with musicians like Andrew White, Albert Mangelsdorf, Dave Liebman, Howard McGhee, and pianist Bill Evans among others. At Harvard, he was featured in a concert of the music of Charles Mingus alongside guest soloist, Ted Curson. He then continued his jazz studies at Berklee College of Music(1983) and New England Conservatory (1984-6), studying with George Russell, Ran Blake, and with legendary woodwind teachers Joe Viola, Jimmy Giuffre, and Joe Allard. He made his first recording alongside drummer Jim Black in a group entitled Against the Grain in 1987. He spent several years in Boston jamming at the famed underground bebop club, Wally's.
He had his first overseas professional tour in 1989, in a group that included pianist John Medeski and drummer Mike Sarin. He then moved to Barcelona for 4 months, playing in the Mallorca Jazz Festival, and then to Paris in 1990 where he remained until mid-1995. In Paris, and around Europe, he performed with American expatriates Jack Gregg, Bobby Few, Sunny Murray, John Betsch, Rasul Siddik, Kirk Lightsey and Archie Shepp, among others. He was featured with Shepp and bassist Nat Reeves on a record by drummer Steve McCraven in 1994. He also performed with numerous African musicians, including drummer Brice Wassy and keyboardist Sheik Tidiane Seik, who was an active member of Fefer's Parisian fusion outfit, Avram's Acid Base. While in Paris, he established a flourishing private teaching practice as well.
In 1995, at the suggestion of drummer Dennis Charles, he finally made the move to New York City, where he met conductor/composer Butch Morris and played several gigs with the David Murray Big Band under Morris' direction and alongside many of New York's top creative players (James Spaulding, Craig Harris, Marty Ehrlich, etc). He had a trio with bassist Fred Hopkins, a funk unit with Reggie Washington, Marlon Browden, and Dave Fiuczynski and an acoustic quartet, alternately including bassists Ben Allison and Sean Conly, trumpeter James Zollar, and drummers Chad Taylor and Matt Wilson.
In 1997, he began a two-year weekly residency at the Knitting Factory in New York with his trio, including bassist Eric Revis and longtime friend and drummer, Igal Foni. This trio was documented on Fefer's first disc as a leader, Calling All Spirits (rec. Dec. 1999). Fefer also created Squelch, an improvised jazz/electronics dance music quartet which performed regularly in NYC between 1997 and 1999. He played as a sideman with the Mingus Big Band and with Joseph Bowie's Defunkt Big Band.
He has been active in New York in a wide variety of settings playing with Graham Haynes, William Parker, Bobby Few, Fred Hopkins, Saul Williams, Butch Morris Orchestra, David Gilmore, Kelvyn Bell, David Fiuczynski, Frank Lacy, Newman Baker, Brandon Ross, Essiet Essiet, Alan Silva, Dennis Charles, James Hurt, Roy Campbell, Dougie Bowne, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Karl Berger, Francis M"bappe, and Tony Allen. He has performed in at least 12 different countries and has played numerous NYC venues (Sweet Basil, Zinc Bar, Tonic, Birdland, Carnegie Recital Hall, CBGB, Fez, Dharma, The Cooler, Cornelia St. Cafe) and Festivals (JVC, Heineken, Texaco, Verizon).
He has performed with dancers and choreographers (Randy James Dance Project, Yuko Chuma's School of Hard Knocks, Vision Dance Festival '96) and several theater projects including the Obie-award winning Streetcar Named Desire at the New York Theater Workshop, directed by the renowned Ivo Van Hove (1999). He has also performed at Gale Gates, The Thread Waxing Space, The Museum of African Art, Central Park, Battery City Park, and Bryant Park. He used music as therapy in working with autistic, down's syndrome, and special needs children at the 92nd St. Y (1998) and worked with LEAP (learning through an expanded arts program) as an artist-in-residence at several NYC public schools.
He continues performing as a sideman and with his trio, quartet (with trombonist Curtis Fowlkes), and in duo with pianist Bobby Few. He also continues composing, touring, recording and teaching privately on a regular basis. Avram's music has been featured on WKCR, WUSB, Radio France, on the television show Conan O'Brian and on the cable station BET. Also, a full concert video on MCM, European music television. In addition, there exist about 20 hours of unissued video footage of a variety of concerts and dance performances, and another 200 hours of audiotape documenting different concerts and unreleased studio projects.
Newspaper articles include Paris City Magazine, Jerusalem Post, Chicago South Suburban, Earshot Magazine, and the Seattle Weekly.
Avram Fefer Trio (2000) Avram Fefer Quartet, (2001), Avram Fefer, Bobby Few, Wilber Morris (2002);
Parallel Realities: Against The Grain (1988); Steve McCraven (w/Archie Shepp) (1994); The Last Poets (1993); Manhattan New Music Project (1998); Beigels Daisy Toasts (1993 and 1995); The Great Atomic Power (1999); Mary Reidy: The Album (1997); Wanderlust (1998)