Composer/pianist/electronic artist Bob Gluck
's musical repertoire is particularly diverse. Among his many electro-acoustic projects are the borderless duo album Textures and Pulsations
(Ictus Records, 2012) with Aruán Ortiz
(Ictus Records, 2014) featuring improvisations based on Jewish biblical chants, and Infinite Spirit
(FMR Records, 2016) where he pays tribute to Herbie Hancock
's Mwandishi Band. In the latter, Gluck brought in drummer Billy Hart
and trumpeter Eddie Henderson
from that relatively short-lived group. For Early Morning Star
Gluck has brought together old and new colleagues in an eclectic program of social justice-inspired compositions.
He is joined by long-time collaborator, drummer Tani Tabbal
whose impressive resume includes works with the Sun Ra
Arkestra, Roscoe Mitchell
, Anthony Braxton
, Henry Threadgill
, Geri Allen
and many other prominent artists. Syrian clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh is a graduate of Juilliard who has his background in classical music and is a member of Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble. Vocalist Andrea Wolper
has four previous recording as a leader/co-leader including Parallel Lives
(Jazzed Media, 2011), an inspiring outing featuring Kris Davis
on piano and bassist Ken Filiano
. Filiano is on board here as well. The New York native has hundreds of album creditsmany as a co-leaderand has worked with Anthony Braxton, Fred Ho
, Nels Cline
, Bill Dixon
, and dozens of other first-call jazz artists.
Wolper's commanding voice is a significant influence in four of the eleven tracks in which she participates. In the opener, "A Time of Singing," Gluck's melodic playing and Wolper's clear and nimble multi-language vocal light up the piece with interweaving melodies. They team up later on "Never Ceasing," a very different sensation with Gluck's thunderous chords accompanied by Wolper's expressionist vocal techniques falling between singing and speaking. "For Today" is an exquisite solo piano piece and Azmeh's clarinet and Filiano's bowed bass add a haunting and forlorn quality to "Friday Song."
Stratified charts, complex patterns, balance, and free improvisation are hallmarks of Gluck's work but change is the only constant in his music. However spiritually or politically disposed his work is, Gluck is deeply committed to the rudimentary systems of jazz music, its fundamentals, and its past. This underrecognized virtuoso, and this gifted group of musicians, continue to bring these elements together on Early Morning Star
A Time of Singing; Early Morning Star; Emerge-ency; Flowing; For Today; Friday Song; Here Now; Never Ceasing; Not For Today; Today Today; Tzur Mishelo/Los Bilbilicos.