AMN Reviews: Jordan Glenn – BEAK LIVE (2017; Minus Zero)

Minus Zero is a new label started by Vijay Anderson, Ben Goldberg, and Dina Maccabee. All of the proceeds from album sales are donated to Planned Parenthood. This is a review in an ongoing series covering the label’s releases.

Jordan Glenn, otherwise known as the drummer of Jack O’ The Clock and the Fred Frith Trio, takes on a composition and conducting role in this live recording. His “band” consists of Will Northlich-Redmond on guitar and kalimba, Karl Evangelista on guitar, Mark Clifford on vibraphone, Jason Hoopes on bass, Robert Woods-LaDue on percussion, Robert Lopez on percussion, and Jon Arkin on drums.

This percussion-oriented ensemble divides its time between semi-tuneful themes and more outside excursions. But rather than sounding African or Brazilian, for example, Glenn keeps the group heading in a direction informed by American rock music but sounding too exotic for that label. The rhythm section lays down complex yet melodic structures while the guitars improvise and accentuate. Nonetheless, the entire group is not opposed to making departures into free noise from time to time.

The only caveat to this recording is that it captures a significant amount of audience noise (not just cheering) which can distract from the quieter moments. Or, in a Cage sense, perhaps the audience is part of the composition. In any event, not unlike said audience, one can only applaud Glenn’s efforts herein, as he manages to beat a new musical path using familiar and diverse elements.