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Bebop Spoken There

Charlie Musselwhite: "I used to see these posters in the windows of the [Chicago] blues clubs advertising Elmore James and Muddy Waters which knocked me out. I was making a note of the addresses and at night I'd go back and listen to the blues until 4-5 in the morning." - (Blues Matters! Aug/Sep 2021)

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'606' Club: "A toast to Lance Liddle of the terrific jazz blog 'Bebop Spoken Here'"

The Strictly Smokin' Big Band included Be Bop Spoken Here (sic) in their 5 Favourite Jazz Blogs.

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13,530 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 13 years ago. 948 of them this year alone and, so far, 112 this month (July 31).

Monday, January 18, 2021

Album review: Will Glaser - Climbing in Circles

Will Glaser (drums); Matthew Herd (saxophones); Liam Noble (piano).

An intimate and subtle third album of this name, led by young London-based drummer Glaser, the culmination as a trio after 2 duo albums: Part 1 with young saxophonist Herd and Part 2 with widely-praised and versatile pianist Noble.  All three comprise a mix of standards and covers with some looser group improvisations, this recording with four originals and five   covers.

Glaser treats the kit as a melodic and textural instrument as much as rhythmic foundation tool, and his partners share this philosophy on their own instruments, resulting in a varied soundscape of moods, tending to the avant garde in places, with extended techniques of piano internals and sax effects.


While there are few straight ahead moments, and something of the Bad Plus’ disconcerting fractured feel in places, there is an abundance of empathy and musical interplay. The band clearly trust and enjoy each other’s company, and complement both rhythmically and harmonically,  leaving space for seemingly casual virtuoso passages in a delightful variety of combinations and styles.

The strongest improvised pieces are the last two. The menacing and moody  Song For The Snake Man opens with dissonant piano and sax, satisfyingly joined by kit as the final piece of an interlocking jigsaw.  The Magician Longs To See is thoughtful and delicate, and more relaxed than much of the album.

But for me, the band come to life with the covers, which while treated with reverence, are enhanced with new colour palettes, emphasis and exquisite playing.   The standout is Don Cherry’s distinctive Mopti, from the 1980 ECM album Playing.  At nearly 11 minutes, there is room for inspirational interpretation of the circulating melody by all three players.  Glaser takes full advantage of the space, stretching out to work over the loping rhythm every which way.

Mood Indigo is a warm and relaxed exploration of Duke Ellington’s classic, while Tom Waits’ Lonely is played as a limpid ballad, with breathy sax and brushes replacing the gravel voice.

The film tune I'm An Old Cowhand, written for Bing Crosby and turned into a jazz standard by Sonny Rollins, is taken even further here in a jaunty frolic.  Paul Motian’s Mumbo Jumbo is the other standout,  with drums as an instrument confidently navigating the choppy waters between abstruse and exhilarating.

An intriguing and absorbing listen – I await these outstanding players’ next moves with interest!

Chris K

Release date: 22 Jan 2021  Ubuntu Music: CD Cat: UBU 0075CD

Buy CD or digital  

Will Glaser

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