Will Glaser ‘Climbing in Circles’ CD (Ubuntu Music) 4/5

I was recently discussing with a musician friend the qualities of a jazz performance and we both agreed that the sounds and attitudes that we enjoyed most in the greatest jazz musicians were joyfulness, a sense of humour, cheekiness and fun.

Drummer Will Glaser has a style which is rooted in the Jazz tradition and yet his influences range far and wide, taking in rock and experimental music. On this album, Glaser is joined by saxophonist Matthew herd and the renowned pianist Liam Noble, a musician with equally eclectic musical tastes.

Glaser has recorded with the saxophonist and the pianist before, both in duo settings; one with Herd and the other with Noble. All the material on this release is new and is intended to document the growth of the musical partnerships established previously and is the culmination of a three-year project. The repertoire includes music from fellow drummer Paul Motian, Don Cherry and Tom Waits, Duke Ellington and Johnny Mercer. There are four pieces created ‘in the moment’ and whilst free in nature, all seem to possess an internal form of logic.

Glaser says that “this record sums up everything I love about music. We play standards and compositions from my heroes, and spontaneously create new music in the moment.”

The set opens with ‘Pre Lewd’ which I take to be one of the ‘spontaneously created’ pieces and clearly shows the good humour radiating when the trio plays.

Other highlights include ‘Mood Indigo’ with a flavour of Thelonious Monk to the fore. A sense of fun pervades this rendition. The theme is deconstructed and gradually rebuilt in the trio’s likeness. This piece clearly shows the trio’s awareness of their shared musical heritage from which they create something new.
Later echoes of Sonny Rollins are in the air when the trio launch into ‘I’m an Old Cowhand’. This one also reminded me of a performance from an early Courtney Pine album. The alto playing on this one is magnificent.
‘Lonely’ is the Tom Wates tune and is a sumptuous ballad with more great playing from all.

Over the nine tracks on the album, variety is the key. The recorded sound quality is first-rate and the cover creates in vision a representation of the sounds created on the album. This kind of music demands the kind of musical telepathy which has been refined over the previous two albums.

As I return to that conversation with my friend, I can say that this album has joyfulness, a sense of humour, cheekiness and fun pervading it along with an element of risk-taking. These are all the ingredients for a fine jazz album.

Alan Musson