Such a pleasure to hear my friend Bob Gluck's newest album of duets with drummer Tani Tabbal (whose day gig is with Roscoe Mitchell).
Bob and I share an interest (obsession, perhaps) with incorporating electronics (synthesizers, laptops, Ableton Live, etc.) in jazz orchestrations. He's written a couple of great books on that subject and made several electronic/acoustic albums, including a recent one with Eddie Henderson and Billy Hart, band mates of mine years ago in Herbie Hancock's electro/acoustic Mwandishi band. This album, however, is nearly evenly divided between songs rendered electro-acoustically and others that are piano and drums alone.
On the evidence of the album you are about to hear, Bob and Tani are especially suited to play together. Bob's approach to jazz improvisation is in the grand tradition of Art Tatum - floridly melodic, emotional and accomplished. Tani's approach has been to amplify this ongoing stream of musical ideas in a way that's both spare and grand. I'm especially taken with their rendering of Shorter's "Sanctuary," a mysterious and eccentric piece that can be the graveyard of soloists who try to play it as a melody over a series of chords, most of them purporting to be complex versions of D). Bob's deconstructive approach relies less on chord symbols and more on exploring Shorter's elusive melody with shape-shifting scales and responsive musical ideas.
I listened first to these wonderful acoustic pieces and turned to the electro/acoustic songs with mild misgivings, prepared to be a little disappointed. The acoustic set would be a hard act to follow and figuring out ways of incorporating electronics in jazz isn't easy. Many, ok most, attempts quickly dumb down into cliché or bombast.
I needn't have worried. Bob and Tani's original composition, "Resolve," for instance, has the same fluidity and grand scope of the acoustic pieces. Each of the other electro-acoustic pieces exhibits the same high level of accomplishment, including Bob and Tani's witty "Premonition," where a hapless synth ostinato is driven more or less mad by an explosion of rhythmic percussion ideas before giving up and muttering into silence.
Great work, guys. I'm definitely envious!
June 2017, Los Angeles