Review By: Jeff Becker
Blue Bamboo Music
In a genre where the most recognizable sounds are usually piano, bass and drums; bassist Glen Ackerman has gathered an up and coming stable of predominately Houston musicians to create a uniquely cutting edge sound. To call this a fusion only album would be to overlook the complexities and harmonic richness of the compositions and arrangements. Though technically sound in all aspects from a player and compositional standpoint; the music has a lyrical theme throughout making this much deeper than just an album filled with technique pyrotechnics and dexterity (which it does offer), never allowing virtuosity to overpower the group message of the compositions.
This band of musical brothers features: saxophonist, Woody Witt, drummers, Joel Fulgham and J.D. Guzman, keyboardist, Ted Wenglinski, and guitarists, Chris Cortez and Paul Chester and all are equally adept at conveying Ackerman’s message. What was equally enjoyable was the artwork and space theme! Creating a fun theme, and an energetic musical experience and stellar musicianship, Glenious Inner Planet is a full rocket ride.
Today, we will examine the track “Blue Rondo a la Raad” in hopes you will be so intrigued you will go directly to the Blue Bamboo Music site or your favorite retailer and get your own copy immediately. We know our readers have their own opinions, and rather than dribble on and prolificate our opinions, we will introduce you to one track and you take it from there.
“Blue Rondo a la Raad” is a driving and pulsating cut that quickly conveys the dexterity of Cortez and Ackerman, signaling it is time to blast off. The selection is a contrafact based on the Dave Brubeck composition, “Blue Rondo a la Turk.” The original 9/8 time signature is retained for the first theme. However, Ackerman plays with the grouping of the 9 eight notes (the Brubeck pulse can be felt as 1-2,1-2,1-2,123) by placing the accent on different eight notes Ackerman delivers a fresh statement upon the 9/8 undercurrent. Beginning with bass and drums, the theme is built upon with layered orchestration of guitar and saxophone. The B section releases the driving eight pulse in the melodic line with a call and response section between the saxophone lines being answered by the bass and guitar. This builds to a tutti section with underlying hits from the bass and drums. Landing in the solo section and a new 7/4 sixteenth “funk” feel (1234-123), guitarists, Chris Cortez hits the overdrive pedal and delivers a fine energetic solo through the original harmonic structure. Back to the original 9/8 feel, the B sections is used as an interlude between solos; the ensemble navigates the transition with confidence and ease.
Saxophonist, Woody Witt, takes us on the next “Raad” ride through the funky 7/4 solo section. Witt’s tone is rich and full of drive, bending notes and developing his exotic colors and motifs to a steaming climax of notes and rhythms. Again the transition to 9/8 and the B section melody are used for the interlude to Ackerman’s bass solo. Ackerman effortlessly flows between the upper and lower register of his bass to develop his melodic statements over Cortez’s color arpeggiated chords.
The selection returns to the original melody for the closing statement. This is only one example of the exemplary offering within each Ackerman composition. A well produced – well conceived release that will be a welcome addition to any jazz or modern jazz listener’s collection, which likes their jazz to have a bite.