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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Above the Clouds

Arbors Jazz ARCD 19337



1. Can't I?
2. A Little Funky
3. Our Love Is Here To Stay
4. Stitt's Bits
5. Above the Clouds
6. Easter Parade
7. Tranquillity
8. In a Sentimental Mood
9. Hidden Truths
10. Every Day I Fall In Love
11. Blues For Mat
12. I've Been Working On The Railroad.

Dave Glasser – Alto sax
Larry Ham – Piano
Dennis Irwin – Bass
Carl Allen - Drums

An album of no-nonsense swinging jazz from an American alto-saxophonist who has played with Clark Terry, George Benson, the Count Basie Big Band (led by Frank Foster) and Illinois Jacquet’s big band. Dave Glasser’s saxophone tone is mellow – as sweet as Johnny Hodges or Benny Carter but, because he often eschews vibrato, perhaps nearer Paul Desmond. On Blues for Mat, his alto swoops in the Hodges manner, but on the title-track he sounds almost like tenorist Stan Getz, brooding on a thoughtful ballad.

All these comparisons put Glasser alongside some of the great mainstream saxists and he’s none the worse for that. His tone is smooth but this is not "Smooth Jazz" in the bland modern style, as Glasser has many interesting things to say.

The moods vary from the straightforward swing of Can’t I? via the funk of A Little Funky and the boppish Stitt’s Bits to the lyrical bossa nova Tranquillity. The last three of these are Glasser compositions and in fact he contributes six characterful tunes to the CD. There are also some jazz standards and lesser-known tunes like Every Day I Fall in Love (a Sammy Fain song performed by Rudy Vallee in the 1935 film Sweet Music).

In a Mellow Tone contains some eloquent solos from Dave Glasser and Larry Ham, while Easter Parade is typically winning: played with a jaunty bounce by the whole quartet. The rhythm section is faultless, with a swinging bassist and drummer plus a responsive pianist who fits in telepathically with everything that Dave Glasser does. Larry Ham’s piano is particularly enjoyable on Blues for Mat, where the pianist reminds me of Duke Ellington discreetly backing Johnny Hodges on those marvellous "Back to Back" sessions. The album ends with a groovy version of the traditional tune I’ve Been Working on the Railroad, complete with train noises.

This is generally unassertive jazz, making its impact without big histrionics. To start with, I thought the album was rather tame but it grew on me the more I listened to it – and now I‘m a complete convert.

Tony Augarde


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