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    Improvisations based upon Jewish biblical chant
    In loving memory of my father, Stan Gluck
    Tropelets is a lyrical, multilayered duet for piano, soprano saxophone, and electronics. Together the instruments interweave layers of lyrical melody, highlighting the sonic beauty of historical cantorial traditions, and the openness, dialog and parallel play found within modern jazz improvisation. The music is inspired by a deep spirituality of generations past. It is informed by the breadth of each musician’s respective musical adventures, among them Sterman’s decades of performances with the Philip Glass Ensemble and Gluck’s highly regarded trios and duet recordings.
    Tropelets can be experienced in many ways: as influenced by the playfulness of early jazz, the fleeting sensory snapshots of Impressionism, the improvisational world opened by Ornette Coleman, Jewish narrative singing, and a myriad of other possibilities. Each section is based upon one of three models used to chant biblical texts (“trope”) from the biblical books of Esther, Prophets, and Lamentations. Densities and shapes ebb and flow as musical and emotional implications of the melodies and their history are explored. A third layer, constructed from digitally processed vocal recordings of biblical chant, periodically weaves in and out, providing an additional sonic partner. Throughout this recording, Bob Gluck and Andrew Sterman present a musical work of beauty, soulfulness, and intensity.
    Tropelets opens with the call and response of “Jeremiah speaks” (6:02), individual tones and sound gestures emerging from silence, closing with resonant electronic echoes of the exchange. Unexpected timbres arise from the piano in “A first Lamentation” (5:19). Steadily rising and falling piano lines are joined by bursts of saxophone invention. The opening mournful cries of “A second Lamentation” (4:57) are animated by hopeful saxophone melodies, cradled by gentle piano figures and tapestries of human breath sounds that take on more forceful emotions. “Jeremiah speaks again” (3:39) delightfully transforms the traditional prophetic biblical chant into a cascade of melodic and rhythmic invention. “Esther’s story” (3:15) introduces a third biblical chant melody within an electronic canon of sung melody. The piano and saxophone spin ornamentation around the sound collage. “A third Lamentation” (3:34) returns the listener to the recording’s opening emotional sensibility, subtly hinting at alternate possibilities that lie within its melody.
    “Jeremiah speaks further” (1:39) is a canon of cantorial singing, spun electronically in cascading motion. “Jeremiah speaks yet again” (6:03) captures the insistent qualities of the prophetic text and its traditional chant, while exploring new motivic implications. The performance culminates in a thicket of voices and spinning saxophone gestures. The clarion saxophone calls within “A fourth Lamentation” (1:49) counter the ironically upbeat opening piano figures, culminating in a delicate interplay between instruments. In “A fifth Lamentation” (4:06) saxophone filigree wraps around piano quotations of the biblical chant; the digitally processed piano notes and lines bend and slide in surprising ways. A canon-like vocal treatment opens a reprise of the prophetic chant in “Jeremiah continues to speak” (5:35), against which the saxophone plays buoyant melodies joined by the piano. As the vocal collage fades, an increasingly expansive exposition of the chant melody unfolds. Troplets concludes with “Esther’s story continues” (4:47), a lyrical duet that hints at harmonic resolution, reminding the listener of the intimacy of the improvisational collaboration that characterizes this unique recording.
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Bob Gluck is a pianist, composer, writer, rabbi, and educator. Gluck's repertoire spans jazz, live electronic, and avant-garde concert music. He has to his credit three recordings for jazz trio, three of electronic music on Jewish themes, and his previous Ictus release, the two piano duet CD with Aruan Ortiz, Textures and Pulsations (2012). Chronogram calls him “an accomplished and passionate pianist in the most elusive tradition of avant-garde masters Cecil Taylor, Andrew Hill, McCoy Tyner, and Don Pullen," with The New York Times adding: "an accomplished jazz pianist. Mr. Gluck performed... with virtuosic fluidity." His book You'll Know When You Get There: Herbie Hancock and the Mwandishi Band (University of Chicago Press) has been highly praised. Gluck’s most recent collaborators have included Eddie Allen, Michael Bisio, Jane Ira Bloom, Joe Giardullo, Aruan Ortiz, Neil Rolnick, Dean Sharp, Andrew Sterman, Christopher Dean Sullivan, and Tani Tabbal. He is a Professor of Music at the University at Albany.

Andrew Sterman is a saxophonist and composer, performing most prominently with the Philip Glass Ensemble. He has also worked with Frank Sinatra, Freddie Hubbard, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Aretha Franklin, ISCM, EOS Orchestra, Bang On A Can, MATA, and on Broadway. In Sterman's own recordings, traces of classic American song, contemporary composition, free-jazz, world music and many other influences come together to create a unique and deeply moving whole. In his concept of Comprovisation, performers are free to play their parts in a highly intuitive way, while the written composition controls the fundamental expression of the piece. The New York Times praises his "beautiful and sensitive playing." The Age (Australia) adds: "a sound as pure as moonlight."


released March 15, 2014

Compositions: traditional, arranged by Bob Gluck (Electricsongs-ASCAP).
Andrew Sterman: soprano saxophone
Bob Gluck: piano, electronics, sound collage
Chanting voices: Elana Gordis and Hazan Jack Kessler
Cover painting by Stan Gluck

Recorded by Scott Lehrer on September 9, 2012
Mixed by Troy Pohl
Mastering, produced, and designed by Andrea Centazzo

Copyright 2014 Bob Gluck and Andrew Sterman



all rights reserved


Bob Gluck New York, New York

Bob Gluck is a pianist, composer, writer, rabbi, educator. Chronogram: “an accomplished and passionate pianist in the most elusive tradition of avant-garde masters Cecil Taylor, Andrew Hill, McCoy Tyner, and Don Pullen." Author of two Univ. Chicago Press jazz books. Collaborators: Michael Bisio, Jane Ira Bloom, Joe Giardullo, Aruan Ortiz, Neil Rolnick, Dean Sharp, Andrew Sterman, Tani Tabbal... ... more

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