By Alex W. Rodríguez | Published April 2019
The upright bass might not be an instrument we’re used to hearing at the front of the mix. But The Gleaners, Larry Grenadier’s bold, poetic contribution to the solo bass genre, leaves no doubt that his bass sound belongs there. It’s a purposeful artistic vision—at points melodic, athletic and gut-wrenchingly vulnerable—that explores not only the full range of the instrument’s technical possibilities, but also the emotional range of a deeply sensitive jazz artist. Mostly made up of original solo pieces, the album is peppered with thoughtful interpretations of fellow musicians’ tunes and a remarkably creative remix of the George Gershwin ballad “My Man’s
The originals unfold contrasting moods and a broad range of timbres, as the flowing, bowed opener, “Oceanic,” gives way to “Pettiford,” a buoyant tribute to the bebop legend. “Vineland” is vigorous and adventuresome, and in contrast, “The Gleaner” is a haunting exploration of overtones and the instrument’s upper register.
When Grenadier turns to songs penned by others, he channels the energy of deep friendship, offering a heartfelt interpretation of “Gone Like The Season Does,” a gorgeous tune penned by Rebecca Martin, his wife. Later, he delves deeply into rich harmonies during two short “Bagatelles,” written by Viennese guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel. The album’s fulcrum, though, is a mysterious, focused medley of John Coltrane’s “Compassion” and Paul Motian’s “The Owl Of Cranston” during which their creative spirit is palpable in the bassist’s searching tribute. A testament to one of our generation’s true bass craftsmen, The Gleaners offers a pathway into a brilliant mind taking a rare and well-deserved turn in the spotlight.
The Gleaners: Oceanic; Pettiford; The Gleaner; Woebegone; Gone Like The Season Does; Compassion/The Owl Of Cranston; Vineland; Lovelair; Bagatelle 1; Bagatelle 2; My Man’s Gone Now; A Novel In A Sigh. (42:02)
Personnel: Larry Grenadier, bass.