Adam Glaser, Excursions Review
by Sylvannia Garutch
Adam Glaser is a man of many talents. Glaser is a gifted jazz pianist and composer and one of the most engaging and versatile conductors on the classical scene today. Glaser serves as Music Director of the professional-caliber Juilliard Pre-College Orchestras, which he has conducted in over 50 concerts at New York’s Lincoln Center, and as the Director of Orchestras at Hofstra University. He has been honored by the American-Austrian Foundation’s Karajan Fellowship for Young Conductors, which sponsored his residence at the Salzburg Festival and the Vienna Philharmonic’s Attergau Orchestra Institute. Glaser’s original compositions have been performed by over 30 orchestras throughout the U.S. and Canada, including the orchestras of Philadelphia, St. Louis, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Utah, Vancouver, and Toronto. He is releasing his second album, titled Excursions, featuring Glaser presenting fifteen original instrumentals through the lens of contemporary fusion.
Opening with the energetic “Naomi’s Binomial Nomenclature,” Glaser will instantly charm you with his powerful keyboard style of skill and lyricism. The composition is set to a funky R&B Latin feel with a memorable and lyrical melody with an engaging call and response structure. Glaser’s solo style is one of depth and dynamics. He focuses on melodic substance over flash. His light, dancing phrases flow through the registers as he accents with punchy chords. Glaser delivers a bravura performance that is filled with enthusiasm.
“Con Artist” builds upon a funky groove and layers of sounds. The rhythmic energy is maintained, and the clever way Glaser incorporates various orchestrations is brilliant. Throughout the solos section, Glaser keeps elements of the multiple themes alive within his improvisation. He brings in new rhythms and sonorities from other genres into the jazz-fusion language to create something inspiring. Glaser has a way of keeping his vocabulary grounded in the jazz traditions with just a hint of Bill Evans’ light sophisticated touch to Brad Mehldau’s darker spectrum with his painterly coloring through the fusion setting. Still, Glaser’s voice is evident on the instrument, both as a composer and performer.
Excursions is a magical second outing by the very gifted Glaser. The contrasting compositions are all characterized by Glaser’s rhapsodic energy that elevates the music. The combination of performed, programmed, and recorded sounds communicate with each other joyously to form a complete package. Excursions will cement Glaser’s place on the international jazz map with his panache of deep musical understanding, wide-ranging styles, and skills as a performer.