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With Kent Glenn at the piano leading two different ensembles, one in New York and one in Los Angeles, the music of Sharon Bercutt receives its due recognition. The composer sits in for "Clusters," which translates as a somber mood piece to close the album. While most of the program proves inspiring, with a driving jazz quality that digs in deep, it's an uneven session.
"Ballad" contains empty spaces that leave too much room for expected conversation. Its piano trio arrangement leaves gaps that cry out to be bridged with musical cascades or improvised clusters. That never happens. Similarly, "Return" roams over open spaces with a lilting melody that proves repetitious. Here, the spaces are filled; however, the arrangement's repetition leaves the listener wanting more. It seems that "Return" refers to the music's consistent action of returning to its simple theme. "Clusters" closes the album with dark, dramatic chords that stir for a few brief moments. With a track length of 1:47, however, the piece never takes off. It's merely a reflection of what could happen.
Elsewhere, the New York ensemble floats a lovely air with mood music befitting a romantic film scene or a casual Sunday afternoon social affair. Vibraphone, flute or saxophone, and strings give the ensemble a smooth quality. Glenn's piano artistry gives the session plenty of subtle passion. The music flows with an ease that takes on liquid qualities, and Glenn's cohesive ensemble moves with natural magnetism. The session's high point, "Subtle Matter," features Karolina Strassmayer on alto, pouring it on. Vibes and bass add a significant portrait through versatile soloing as the ensemble drives this one with pleasure.
Track Listing: Spike; Mariposa; Calliope; Ballad; Some Total; Birdwing; Return; Subtle Matter; Another Illusion; Untitled Number 7; Clusters.
Personnel: Kent Glenn, Sharon Bercutt- piano; Leo Huppert, Mark Proctor- bass; Kate Griffith, Michele Santanastasio- drums; Karolina Strassmayer- alto saxophone, flute; Tim Collins- vibraphone; Rob Thomas- violin; Judith Insell-Staack, Marlene Rice- viola; Dana Leong- cello.
I was first exposed to jazz as a middle school band student. A college ensemble passed through and put on a concert for the band students (of which I was one). The level of mastery and musicianship blew me away, intimidated, and inspired me
I was first exposed to jazz as a middle school band student. A college ensemble passed through and put on a concert for the band students (of which I was one). The level of mastery and musicianship blew me away, intimidated, and inspired me. Try as I might, I was never able to achieve a high enough level of competency to perform at the level I was first and subsequently exposed to. Regardless, I was hooked on jazz and remain so to this day.