CD review

Will Glaser/James Allsopp – “New River Ramble”

Will Glaser/James Allsopp – New River Ramble (release 31 October)
(Bandcamp / other platforms. Review by Tony Dudley-Evans)

New River Ramble album coverThis album follows in the great tradition of saxophone/drums duos. Featuring James Allsopp on tenor saxophone and Will Glaser on drums, it is full of invention, and stands comparison with classics of the form, such as Coltrane’s brilliant Interstellar Space duo album with Rashied Ali.

It’s good to have James Allsopp active again after a quiet period; he’s also bringing out a new album with The Golden Age of Steam group. Will Glaser has been recording a number of duo albums, notably Climbing in Circles Pt 1 with saxophonist Matthew Herd (REVIEW) and Climbing in Circles Pt 2 with pianist Liam Noble (REVIEW). He has also worked with keyboard player Stella Roberts in the JoyBang duo.

This new album, New River Ramble, has three tracks with a total length of 37.45 mins, and each track has its own character.

The Cosmic Serpent immediately displays Allsopp’s full tone on the tenor sax and his ability to develop nicely logical lines set off by Glaser’s intricate cross rhythms. About a third of the way in Glaser solos and then Allsopp comes back in with a gentler approach which has an attractive, almost melancholy feel to it. His playing gradually builds up in intensity, but retains the lyrical quality of that initial passage. It is a track with great variety.

Wet Weather Special begins with a long sustained note on the saxophone which is developed by a series of short notes. Allsopp progresses these motifs throughout the beginning of the track, and gradually builds to a peak. The track continues to its conclusion through a second arc. Overall, it is gentler than the first track with more of Allsopp’s attractive meditative playing. As before, Glaser provides interesting patterns on the drums and cymbals while keeping a strong pulse.

Paul and the Second City Steamer is a tribute to Paul Dunmall and Tony Levin. Allsopp has always been a big fan of the Mujician quartet that featured Dunmall, Levin, Paul Rogers and Keith Tippett. ‘Second City Steamer’ refers to Tubby Hayes’ track of that name and the time when Levin was in Hayes’ quintet and rushed off back to Birmingham after every gig in his Aston Martin sports car. Fittingly, this track is much more upbeat with strong drumming from Glaser and an intensity that is maintained throughout the track.

The album will be available on Bandcamp on Saturday 31 October

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