Sax legend Wayne Shorter is making his mark on the musical world in a
way that doesn’t involve his playing an instrument. Instead, he’s using
his wisdom to inspire others to focus their skills and share them with
the world. So it is that saxophonist/composer Nicole Glover releases her
debut, aptly titled First Record (2015).
Glover plays tenor and is joined by George Colligan, piano, trumpet on
“Snow Dance”; Jonathan Lakey, bass; and Alan Jones, drums.
“Water Ritual” opens the set. It’s an upbeat, ambient song that hints on
being a waltz. The piano sets the elegant mood while the tenor leads.
Shortly into the piece, both step back for a brief bass solo. After a
return to the main theme, Glover takes point for an adventurous workout.
The drums stand out a bit more during this passage. After another pass
on the theme, the piano opens up, bass and drums become more firmly
locked in, and the tenor goes on a rambling, blistering jaunt. If the
main body of the song represents a baptism or similar ceremony, the
ending is a raucous celebration wherein individuals catch the spirit and
let go of their inhibitions.
“Blood Moon” begins with an ominous bass line that sets up the rhythm.
The tenor carries the brooding lead, with piano fills in response to the
lead lines. Jones does a lot of interesting things in the background,
from tom rolls to cymbal splashes. The mood becomes sunny as Glover
heats up. The tenor moves aside for a moment, while the piano offers a
charming interlude. Then the song shifts back to the bright, and
eventually the foreboding.
Glover was introduced by her father to improvised music at a young age.
She began playing clarinet at 10 and later turned to tenor saxophone.
While in high school, she was among 19 students from across the United
States to be selected to the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra. The
national tour included a performance at the Monterey Jazz Festival with
Wynton Marsalis. After studying at William Paterson University, Glover
returned to Portland, Oregon, in 2011. She was invited to record on
Esperanza Spalding’s Grammy-winning album, Radio Music Society.
Over the course of her career, Glover has performed with such luminaries
as Mulgrew Miller, Marsalis, Spalding, Kenny Garrett, Bennie Maupin,
Terrell Stafford, Helen Sung and more.
In the liner notes, Glover says it was the summer of 2013 when she met
Shorter. “He looked me in the eye and said, ‘You’ve got to be a leader
in this world,’” she says. Glover had never led a band but kept that
conversation fresh in her mind over the next two years, while she
continued to grow and develop. The result is First Record, an
ear-pleasing set of five original songs and three arrangements of pieces
by Maurice Ravel, Warne Marsh and Pee Wee King.
Thanks, Wayne Shorter.