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Will Glaser: Climbing In Circles

Chris May By

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Will Glaser: Climbing In Circles
Women musicians seem more inclined to describe their albums as "playful" than their male counterparts. We need not spend time speculating on the reasons for that here. Playful, however, is the word that best sums up this delightful trio album by two generations of male musicians. Young bloods drummer Will Glaser and saxophonist Matthew Herd have been playing together since leaving London's Guildhall School of Music & Drama in 2014. Pianist Liam Noble has been lighting up the British scene since the turn of the millennium. Together they make music that is warm and inviting and which communicates an engaging sense of fun. Remember fun?

Glaser's sense of fun extends to his website, which eschews the convention of wheeling out endorsements from every luminary who has ever made a complimentary remark about the proprietor's music. Glaser's site carries just one endorsement, given in 2018 by Wynton Marsalis: "Great beard!" But do not get the idea that Glaser and his colleagues' exuberant pleasure in making music together means it is simply slapstick clowning. Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo," for instance, gets a sotto voce treatment of exquisite delicacy, and nuance and subtlety are Climbing In Circles' hallmarks. You can get a taste by checking out the three song YouTube promo clip below.

The album follows a pair of duo sets self-released by Glaser in 2019: Climbing In Circles Part 1, recorded with Herd, and Climbing In Circles Part 2, made with Noble. Both albums feature five standards and four group improvisations and have Fats Waller's "Jitterbug Waltz," Irving Berlin's "Cheek To Cheek" and Billy Strayhorn's "A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing" in common. The idea of covering some of the same material on both albums, says Glaser, was to show the difference personality can make to music.

The new disc brings all three protagonists together. It follows a similar road map as the earlier albums: five standards/covers and four group improvisations. The standards/covers are new ones: "Mood Indigo," Don Cherry's "Mopti," Paul Motian's "Mumbo Jumbo," Tom Waits' "Lonely" and Johnny Mercer's "I'm And Old Cowhand," previously romped through with tongue firmly in cheek by tenor saxophonist Sonny Rollins on Way Out West (Contemporary, 1957).

Noble, like Glaser and Herd a Guildhall graduate, is a perfect pianist for this project, capable as he is of in-the-moment, abstract composition (as he has demonstrated with saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock's Sleepthief band) and lush, lyrical interpretations of evergreens from the Great American Songbook. Noble employed both talents on two duo albums which still sound fresh and compelling around a decade and a half since they were recorded: Let's Call This... (Babel, 2006) with Laubrock, and Starry Starry Night (Village Life, 2008) with drummer and percussionist Paul Clarvis.

Colourful and lively—and Fun with a capital F—if Climbing In Circles makes you giddy it will only be with pleasure.

Track Listing

Pre Lewd; Mood Indigo; Mopti; Fish Pillows; I’m An Old Cowhand; Mumbo Jumbo; Lonely; Song For The Snake Man; The Magician Longs To See.

Personnel

Will Glaser: drums; Matthew Herd: saxophone; Liam Noble: piano.

Album information

Title: Climbing In Circles | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Ubuntu Music

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