Stick around long enough, work your way into the public eye strongly enough, and you'll eventually spawn imitators in your wake. Sweden's Esbjorn Svensson Trio has been around for over ten years now and has rocketed to significant popularity in Europe, for a jazz trio, over the past five. Now Ernst Glerum, with his trio project Glerum Omnibus
, looks to mine the same jazz-with-pop-sensibilityalmost. Glerum Omnibus
ends up, in the final analysis, being somewhat schizophrenic: an entertaining listen that never quite defines what it wants to be.
Glerum, a classically-trained bassist first, has been involved in the Dutch improvising music scene with the Instant Composers Pool; he take to his second instrument, the piano, delivering half a dozen songs that, like E.S.T., are clearly rooted in the American tradition, but lack Svensson's performance flair. A more workman-like pianist, Glerum takes his trio of bassist Clemens van der Feen and drummer Owen Hart Jr. through the compositions, which consist mainly of groove-oriented vamps broken up by simple thematic passages. The band performs ably, but without the stylistic panache of E.S.T., making them a pale comparison at best.
Five other compositions, also originals with the exception of Coltrane's "Naima" and Slam Stewart's "Slam Blues," are odd choices that break up the flow of the rest of the record. Eschewing piano for bass, Glerum plays in tandem with van der Feen and, again, the emphasis is on accessible grooves. Long-time musical compatriot Han Bennink even sits in on snare drum on two of the tracks. But while these bass and drums trios are easy enough on the ears, they have a completely different personality from the piano trio tracks and, consequently, eliminate any sense of stylistic momentum.
In that respect Glerum Omnibus doesn't really know what it wants to be. Does it want to be a youth-oriented piano trio that pulls in a young crowd with engaging melodies and visceral grooves? Or does it want to be slightly more on the edge, presenting similarly sumptuous grooves but in a context that is more out of the ordinary? Both approaches work on their own, but when put together on one disc, they create a stylistic divide that ultimately makes Glerum Omnibus an interesting, if
Personnel: Ernst Glerum (piano, bass), Clemens van der Feen (bass), Owen Hart Jr. (drums), Han Bennink (snare drum on "Naima," "Engineous," "Slam Blues").