On this release, pianist Bob Gluck mixes the realms of classical music and jazz in interesting ways. The formal, declarative music produced by Gluck, clarinetist Kinan Azmeh and vocalist Andrea Wolper is given flow and earthiness by the rhythmic pull of bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Tani Tabbal.
The front-line combination fluidly rises and falls through pieces like the sparkling "A Time of Singing," with Wolper singing words from the Bible's Song of Songs over surging piano, and the heavily rumbling "Friday Song" with Azmeh and Gluck warily stepping over Filiano's seesawing bass. Wolper consistently stands out when she appears, singing in a high, compelling voice which recalls singer Dagmar Krause when she was working with the band Henry Cow. She is the stirring heart of politically conscious songs like "Early Morning Star" and "Never Ceasing," offering a calm but powerful call to arms in the midst of circling clarinet and piano. She also brings warmth and passion to "Not For Today." Her multi-tracked and delayed voice becomes increasingly delirious in the midst of Gluck's florid piano, the rhythm section's tumbling groove and Azmeh's oozing wails over the top.
There are also several instrumental tracks on which Filiano and Tabbal show their value, adding energy and freedom to the music. On "Here Now" their furious energy loosens up the clarinet and piano. Gluck takes a rumbling solo before Filiano's sliding bass notes take the spotlight and Azmeh runs hot and wild over hard-swinging bass and drums. The pianist also has a quietly introspective solo piano turn on "For Today," with folksy, gospel-tinged sentiment. A subdued clarinet and bass conversation starts off "Today Today." Then Azmeh gradually becomes louder and shriller over cymbal static until Gluck finally bangs in, taking over with a swift, violent melody. "Emergency" is swirling turbulence which shows the group's skill at heated improvisation, while "Flowing" starts out as a quiet clarinet and piano melody then breaks apart into individual fragments from all four musicians but still hangs together as a single entity. The loveliest piece on the CD is the final one, "Tzur Mishelo/Los Bilbilico," a combination of two traditional Jewish Sephardic songs. Everyone plays and sings at their most sensitive here. Wolper's voice is really sad and sensual and Gluck's playing is radiant.
There is a quiet, compelling humanity to this music. It has a seriousness of purpose but also carries a sense of play and adventure. At different times It comes off as either dignified or frisky and the contrast works.
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.
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