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BOB GLUCK TRIO—RETURNING> (FMR Records)

If jazz is meant to be a conversation, the Bob Gluck Trio is able to converse on a great many topics, sometimes at the same time. On their latest release, Returning>, the group brings to vivid life the tension and beauty of Gluck’s compositions, beginning with “Lifeline,” a five minute song bristling with electricity.

The trio—Gluck on piano, Michael Bisio on bass and Dean Sharp on drums—moves comfortably between the avant-garde and the emotional throughout, as on “That’s All You Got?”, a song title that’s less a taunt than an inspiration. Bisio strokes the strings solo on the number before being joined by Gluck in a sound that borders on cacophony without ever going too far from the music.

The beauty of jazz, and there’s plenty of it, is how intimate it can feel while also coming off as entirely otherworldly. “By a Field” includes all the traditional clicks of the bass, the rattle of the snare and the delicate waves of the piano while launching the listener into the stratosphere.

“There’s No There There” is a romp straight from a child’s dream of a toy shop coming to life in the middle of the night, while “Something Quiet”—the only joint trio composition on the album—delivers on its promise, a gentle comedown after an often eclectic and wild ride.

The Bob Gluck Trio is a splendid outfit, and on Returning> they’re in a very good place to show it off. —Crispin Kott

www.electricsongs.com



CHRIS BERGSON BAND—IMITATE THE SUN(2 Shirts Records)

The news that Keith Richards is spending some of his Stones downtime keeping his riffs engine warm by recording another album with the X-Pensive Winos must have come as welcome news to the legend’s legions of fans. But while they wait for the album to arrive, those Keef enthusiasts might consider giving Chris Bergson Band a listen.

Imitate the Sun, Bergson’s latest album, combines all the rock, blues, and soul influences Richards has always worn on his sleeve, with subtle traces of what might have been had Gram Parsons stuck around a little longer. The title track, with its saxophone and organ working in perfect harmony with Bergson’s soulful voice and strafing guitar licks, is perhaps Imitate the Sun’s most telling number. But there are certainly others, the 10 songs on the album running a line up and down the spine of rock & roll.

“Shattered Avenue” is a moody blues number straight from the Bayou, while “Mr. Jackson” is straight up soul and blues, a shuffling beat reminiscent of the 1970’s.

Four of the album’s songs are covers, the best of which is “Standing in the Doorway,” a Dylan number that closes out the set in grand fashion. Over more than eight minutes, the band stretches out and fully experiences the music, both in the material and the performance.

Imitate the Sun manages to sound classic without being a pastiche of its influences. —Crispin Kott

www.chrisbergson.com



JEFF PALMER, DEVIN GARRAMONE and JOHN FISHER—PERMUTATION(Rank Records)

I’m told fusion funk is an acquired taste, which may make Permutation a tough listen for the uninitiated. The album by Jeff Palmer (Hammond B3, bass pedals), Devin Garramone (alto saxophone) and John Fisher (drums) is obviously an accomplished work of undeniably skilled musicians. But whether it tickles your fancy likely depends upon whether you’re a fan of the genre.

On the album opener, for example, the exuberance of “Dragon” is punctuated by bright saxophone and splashes of organ, some of which is a bit jarring. Indeed, there’s little on Permutation that isn’t packed with ideas, and even the more contemplative numbers, such as “Destiny”, are so short that there’s little relief from the complicated whole. There are few album covers more perfectly suited to the music it advertises than Permutation, a sci-fi explosion of falling satellites, flying saucers, pyramids and cryptic mathematical equations.

Permutation’s roots can be primarily found in the fusion funk sound of the early-to-mid-‘70s, with splashes of the theme song from The Cosby Show thrown in for familiarity’s sake.

There is no denying the skill of the performers, especially Palmer who also wrote and produced the album. Perhaps it’s a case of knowing it’s good without being able to fully appreciate just why that is. Permutation is complicated music for people who enjoy complicated music. It’s unlikely anyone who enjoys the genre will come away anything other than thrilled by what they’ve heard. —Crispin Kott

www.rankrecords.com



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