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Bob Gluck Trio 

click to enlarge 2008, FMR Records.
  • 2008, FMR Records.

For some of us in the early 21st century, tradition is the sound of freedom. Such is the case with this new work led by Albany’s Bob Gluck, an accomplished and passionate pianist in the most elusive tradition of avant-garde masters Cecil Taylor, Andrew Hill, McCoy Tyner, and Don Pullen. He’s captured the magic of being at once sentimental and Space Pong crazy. Here and there, Gluck surprises the listener with the blast of a shofar (ram’s horn), doctored voice samples, and what he calls “electronic expansion of acoustic instruments.” This techno addition is a surprising delight. With the able-bodied support of Albany’s Michael Bisio on bass and the Hudson Valley’s excellent Dean Sharp on drums and percussion, Gluck crafts a language of intense thinking, feeling, listening, and creating, mostly all at once.

Eight delicately structured originals and three tasty, personalized covers of tunes by Ornette Coleman and Joe Zawinul find these players conversing in ways that are sometimes silent as well as soaring and singing. These are seasoned improvising musicians who have found and honed their own communication skills and brought them to a greater whole. There’s no “follow the leader” and no “let’s make weird sounds” going on. This kind of mature freedom is very elusive to players and listeners alike—which is the tradition of improvised music, after all.

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