Bob Gluck | Early Morning Star
"Arise, oh my beloved," chants vocalist Andrea Wolper in the art song that opens Early Morning Star. Drawn from biblical love poetry, the phrase serves here to establish the foundation of what's to come musically and thematically: an invocation to listeners to harken to the medium and the message. The album draws from a multiplicity of genres and influences, including collective improvisation, modern jazz, avant-garde, klezmer, Middle Eastern, and Hebrew texts ostensibly addressing social justice concerns—yet in sum it presents a remarkably unified sound and vision that can only be called Bob Gluck music.
Things take flight musically with "Emerge-Ency," featuring the siren-like sounds of Kinan Azmeh's clarinet atop some gorgeously chaotic vamping by Woodstock drummer Tani Tabbal and bassist Ken Filiano, whereas "Flowing" is a more stately group improvisation on a theme. "For Today" is given over entirely to Gluck, whose spacious arrangement across the piano keyboard boasts orchestral depth.
The Albany-area Gluck doesn't always compose for himself, making it all the more of a treat to hear his colorful playing throughout. On "Friday Song," the lyrics wittily incorporate the language of sales and marketing—"risk free at a bargain price"—to decry environmental devastation. "Not for Today" features Wolper's multitracked vocals and a frenzied clarinet improvisation by Azmeh that builds to a crescendo of one impossibly long, sustained note. Gluck coproduced this beautiful album with Trevor Taylor; the pristine sound fully breathes as if you are in the room with the musicians.