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Dave Glasser: Above The Clouds

Budd Kopman By

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Nat Hentoff, in his liner notes to Above The Clouds, doth protest too much in his discussion of jazz, with its supposed death in the States and its creative future in Europe, and then tying his categoric "No!" to icons such as Clark Terry and Jimmy Heath, and youngsters such as 13-year-old Grace Kelly.

Wherever one's taste falls in the many streams of jazz, one should always acknowledge players who, while not being bleeding edge anything, have that "it," an ability to communicate in the jazz mainstream. Dave Glasser is one of those players. Having recently spent some wonderful time with Herb Geller on Il Bello Del Jazz, Glasser in many ways sounds like a link from Geller's generation (ie. Clark Terry) to his own. They share much of the same influences in Benny Carter and Johnny Hodges, although Geller leans to the former and Glasser to the latter.

Glasser is smooth as silk and really knows how to tell a story, to talk with his horn. His warm, velvety tone combines with a phrasing and delivery that invite you to sit down and stay a while, relax, kick off your shoes, and just forget your troubles.

The twelve tracks are divided between Glasser originals and standards, some of which are surprising, like "Easter Parade" and "I've Been Working On The Railroad." There is nothing not to like in the Glasser originals; he does a bebop blues on "Stitt's Bits," making it sound almost too easy, and the sexy, soft ballad that is the title tune takes its time to spin out.

The clinchers, though are a simply amazing "In A Sentimental Mood," where he thins out his tone a bit and can bring a tear to your eye, and a killer blues, "Blues for Mat," which may raise the hair on your neck if you have any connection to the form.

Larry Ham, whom I have heard many times but not recently, is a sophisticated but understated player with extremely good taste. He knows how to swing behind, ahead or on the beat in the most natural way, with grace and élan. A natural accompanist, Ham uses his chord choices and placement to provide a very natural framework for Glasser, who can almost take his presence for granted.

Solid, solid music from the mainstream.

Track Listing: Can't I?; A Little Funky; Our Love is Here to Stay; Stitt's Bits; Above the Clouds; Easter parade; Tranquility; In a Sentimental Mood; Hidden Truths; Every Day I Fall in Love; Blues for Mat; I've Been Working on the Railroad.

Personnel: Dave Glasser: alto saxophone; Larry Ham: piano; Dennis Irwin: bass; Carl Allen: drums.

Title: Above The Clouds | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Arbors Records

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