Monday, September 13, 2010

Bob Gluck Trio's "Sideways" with Michael Bisio

Bob Gluck and his trio release Sideways (FMR 251-0108) stands out. A free-improv jazz piano trio recording is certainly not an unusual thing in itself. What Bob Gluck (piano & electronics), Michael Bisio (bass) and Dean Sharp (drums) do however is in no way common. Most of the pieces are Bob Gluck originals, with one by Michael Bisio, an Ornette Coleman classic, and two by the late Joe Zawinul.

Electronics color the music in ways that are subtle and organic. Mostly they are applied to the sound of the piano or piano and bass, and give added texture to the musical utterances. There is a heightened three-way dialog between the group members, but Gluck and Bisio are especially notable in their interactions. The music can be introspective, as in the haunting phrase that Mr. Gluck plays on the piano repeatedly on the title cut, with the other trio members adding to the mood. There are the sorts of loosely phrased cantabile passages where the three collaborate to extend the phases initiated by the pianist. There are the more hard-charging moments, moments for Bisio's improv prowess and a good deal of interesting and unusual utterances from Bob Gluck. He strikes me as an original voice in this music.

The overall feeling is one of freshness. The trio is not afraid to stray into new music zones. I wouldn't use the phrase "third stream" here, since that is not precisely what is happening (and the phrase has earlier stylistic connotations nowadays) but there is an expressiveness that evokes pan-stylistic sensibilities. Most importantly, the music comes together consistently.

Listen to "Lonely Woman" to get a quick feel for what they are about. Bisio's droning bass evokes the Coleman melody at the start and Gluck follows through with thematic statements of a high order.

The trio comes off as purposeful, directed, expressive and musically advanced. An excellent outing, well worth your time and money.

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