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10

Larry Grenadier: The Gleaners

Karl Ackermann By

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Bassist Larry Grenadier has a most impressive resume: multiple recordings with Herbie Mann, Paul Motian, Charles Lloyd, trumpeter/brother Phil Grenadier, vocalist/wife Rebecca Martin, Chris Potter, Joshua Redman, Jamie Saft, and many others. His brand has long been enhanced by his stellar work with Pat Metheny and a twenty-plus-year association with Brad Mehldau. It's not surprising that Grenadier hasn't released a solo album, given the relative rarity of stand-alone bass recordings, but The Gleaners proves to be worth the wait.

This solo debut was urged on by ECM founder Manfred Eicher and includes seven original compositions and an eclectic mix of covers. The brief opening bowed piece "Oceanic," provides a beautiful, plaintive start that gives way to a feel-good tribute to Oscar Pettiford, an early inspiration for Grenadier. "Gone Like the Season Does" retains the unique warmth, and sharp edges, of Rebecca Martin's original vocal version. Grenadier includes an interesting medley drawing from very different composers with John Coltrane's "Compassion" and Paul Motian's "The Owl of Cranston." The bassist emphasizes the differences with technique but creates a natural blending of the pieces. There is a good deal of variability in the styles on The Gleaners with the quirky folksiness of "Woebegone," the intricate and tightly articulated "Bagatelle 2," a drone-like quality of "A Novel In a Sigh" and a fresh deep-toned take on George Gershwin's "My Man's Gone Now."

Grenadier's relationship with the iconic ECM label dates back two decades, beginning with Lloyd's The Water Is Wide (1999) and including the Mark Turner/Jeff Ballard Fly Trio and recordings with guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel, who contributes here as a composer. Eicher has an affinity for solo bass recordings, having hosted Dave Holland, Eberhard Weber, Barre Phillips and Miroslav Vitous in such settings, and it's illuminating to hear Grenadier as he executes on beautifully orchestrated ballads, spare vignettes and improvisations. As intelligent, clever and technically gifted as he is, Grenadier always puts the song first and it makes for great listening.

Track Listing: Oceanic; Pettiford; The Gleaner; Woebegone; Gone Like the Season Does; Compassion / The Owl of Cranston; Vineland; Lovelair; Bagatelle 1; Bagatelle 2; My Man’s Gone Now; A Novel In a Sigh.

Personnel: Larry Grenadier: double bass.

Title: The Gleaners | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: ECM Records

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