BOB GLUCK, Early Morning Star
Because Bob Gluck is a rabbi (and writer and educator) as well as being an innovative pianist whose two-decades plus discography traverses traditional jazz, live electronic music and avant-garde innovations, it seems appropriate to dub his deeply spiritual, socially conscious and rhythmically and melodically inventive project Early Morning Star one of the most sonically engaging and awakening temple services you’ll likely ever experience.
A masterful collaborator throughout his multi-faceted career, Gluck complements his soulful/lyrical and more boisterous instrumentals with vocals by “cantor” (actually, the emotionally rangy veteran jazz singer) Andrea Wolper that, via religious texts and secular exhortations, cry out for justice, common sense solutions (the environmental themed “Friday Song) and human connection (sometimes via romantic connection, a la “Early Morning Star,” which quotes from Song of Solomon).
Artfully blending his religious and jazz training, Gluck closes this provocative collection with a seductive blend of two spiritual and metaphor-rich Sephardic tunes, “Tsur Mishelo/Los Biblicos.” Also in the “house band” are Syrian clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, bass virtuoso Ken Filiano and drummer Tani Tabbal, who previously worked with Gluck on their 2017 duet album At This Time. The off-kilter music and title of one of the more avant-garde tracks, “Emerge-ency” reflects the chaos our world has descended into, the immediate need for change and the hope (expressed in the rumbling bass and piano improvisations) that one day we will emerge and live the way the God of the Bible intended.