My block is broke, I'm broke and no way to get the T/A back on the road. Staring at the computer during this pouting party and paging through my list of new jazz artists, I clicked over to the email and found a letter written by someone like you, someone who ran across my web page for the first time and is in to jazz, BIG TIME.
I often get folks to ask me to review their CDs and when I receive a copy of such, sometimes I wonder why I bother to even offer my services. So I think, "Who is this guy Glenn McNulty and why is he trying to lift my road starved spirits with this out of the blue proposition about some CD he just cut anyway?" I replied to the email not expecting to hear much more.
A few weeks later, I snatched the plastic sticky think from it's edge and slid "Raw Silk" into "d", wishing it was the T/A's transmission, then qued review. Well as it turned out, I found my services might just be put to good use this time. After the first train's refrain, I had to mouse over and stop the whole locomotion so I could put a better ear to the track. The first cut, "I Want To Thank You is just what the title of the CD says, raw silk! Glenn opens with his saxy impression of Lionel Richie backed up by Sandy Cressman. Glenn shifts from rosy to raspy as he sexy saxes the notes from his horn. Its as if he is really thanking the listener for venturing out and purchasing the CD, or me for taking him up on his offer.
It was about this time I got the call that the new bullet had come in for "The Blackness". That's our pet name for the T/A. Gina was goin' for it, over the river and through the woods to her mother's house and like the first scratch on a well liked record, T/A coughed, skipped then and spat a connecting rod out the side of her motivator. She bled black gold as she sat motionless beside the blacktop. When I got the phone call, I was as sick as 'G' was mad. We've been truckin' it for the last little bit, waiting for today to come. A few nuts and bolts later, we hooked the cables to T/A and jump started her back to life. Frank with his Stein said, "It's alive." Damn straight! It was on from there.
Track two "Jump Start" was right on time and the first cut to buzz the Bose on our first back road bombing run in the heart transplanted T/A. Boppin' the Blackness, "Jump Start" is the first of many cord filled collaborations between Glenn and the executive producer/ arranger Ray Obiedo. On this tune, Ray mixes in a drum line that reminds me of a train rollin' down the tracks while Glenn blows the horn letting everyone know he's left the station. Jeff Narell, Andy's brother, adds his percussive powers to the pull "Jump Start" has on your groove mood. This tune has become my favorite and is what spurred me on to doing the review you're now reading. The writer's block while waiting on the motor block had me corralled for the last two weeks but "Jump Start" got me goin' to get something written.
Hope is often like that. Just when you're about to give up, something or someone comes along and drops the dime that reads "Don't Quit" on one side and "Let's See What Happens" on the other. "Such A Simple Thing" , this hope. We must depend on it, and each other to get through life. Gina had to ask a lovely lady of lifetime's lamentment for the use of her phone. In one of our corresponding emails to each other, Glenn writes of he and his wife's new record label Isona:
"It has been our 'dream' and nightmare to attempt the improbable. That is to launch a successful smooth jazz label and use it as a vehicle for myself and the many other SF bay area smooth jazz artists I have come to know. There are so many talented musicians here it is amazing. I would like to think I have a lot more to 'say' musically in smooth jazz and I hope to get the chance to have my second CD be the beneficiary of all I've learned in making the first one, but I really am looking forward to also being able to help other musicians create valid CD's."Thanks Glenn for having the courage to step out and have the faith in yourself to follow a dream.
Track 4, "Bittersweet" is the beneficiary of the stylings of Ray Obiedo. You remember my last review, his offering up of of world beats on the "Sweet Summer Days" release don't you? On "Bittersweet", he and his crew go all out for Glenn. This tune could have easily fit in format with Summer Days. Brazilian in nature, Glenn and trombone tootlelist Jeff Cressman tune together to make for a unisonic verse that leads up to the pure nylon pluckings of Mr Obiedo, prefaced by the piano work of Peter Horvath of course.
Glenn is originally from the New City of York, transplanted in the San Fran area for the last 25 years and manufactures furniture for a living. I know who my musical Hookmeister is (thanks jeff) and I was wondering how Glenn got hooked up with Ray. He responded:
"I met Ray because the arranger, Kevin Norris, who I was working with on "Quiet Day of Love" (trk 9) moved to Peru and I was stranded so to speak. I called up a jazz drummer I met through Kevin named Paul VanWagenigan (drummer for Andy Narell) and asked him if he knew anybody. He mentioned two people, one who was Ray. I went out and bought one of Ray's CDs to check his work out and I instantly knew he would be great for the material I was writing. Called him up, and we hooked up."Glenn also plays the harmonica and has played the sax since the fifth grade after having been inspired by the Boots Randolph song, "Yakity Sax". He says at that age, he didn't know what instrument it was that made that "certain sound". All he knew was that "I had to make that sound myself". He's been talking back ever since.
Unlike other genres of music, my opinion of instrumental jazz is that it allows one to get lost in painting their own mental pictures and not have to be subjected to the onslaught of culturally orientated snap shots of today's society. We all have things that inspire us to reach certain goals and ways to get there. As far as my writing about jazz, my inspiration comes from being behind the wheel and my mind note-floating from one right brain painted picture to another. "Today" , as the 5th song on the CD spins the brain housing unit into infinity, I see huge meadows with its dew covered blades and buttercups, while the early morning sparrow keeps tune. Glenn got his inspiration for the song from the tone of a cello, played here sweetly by Mark Sumner. He says he hears the tone of an instrument and lovingly wraps the rest of the instrumentation around it. If you make a synaptic link to your ear while sitting in your chair, Glenn will definitely take you there. Like a Klingon mind-meld, instrumental jazz, Glenn's celloized sax, and a few sips from the long-necked glass while sitting in YOUR transporter room, will take you to places unseen, today.
Don't believe me? Slide "Poolside" with Glenn and I. Track six will help you. "Poolside" was written while Glenn was humbly abodding at a flat with a pool out back. Check us out, about 10 or 15 of us standing around the hole in the ground or boarding to the bottom as Glenn's wife walks the party favors around the crowd. I'm just chillin' in the lay back chair, spinning that little umbrella around. Ray sticks his influential head above the surface here and there throughout and Dave Mathews on the B3 starts acting like he's in church or something. The high-heeled sorority sisters, Sandy Cressman and Jenny Meltzer are here also. There vocal background chat puts the festive on this fantasy. See, works doesn't it.
Want to do that again? I thought the trip was fun too. Ok Scotty, beam us to the beach, hang up the moon, and kick in a little surf if you would. "Summer Tides" walks you up and down the shore as the warm ocean breeze tugs on your lady's dress. There is even a touch of the reggae regime to regulate the latitude attitude. The EWI mixed in serves as the cockatoo in the tree. Stroked strings play the falling star part. Oh, we're in love again
Terrance Gaynon from Jazz Across The World writes:
As I listened to this fine musical work of art, courting me through the speakers, I came to realize that in our hard pressed, work obsessed age, happily there was still such a thing as flirtation. I have to be so bold to say that Raw Silk is self indulgence for those blessed with good taste.Back on board Starship No Surprise, "Summer Tides" affords a good opportunity to experience Glenn's electric electicism. As stated above, Glenn has in his repitoie, the art of running the raspy reed through it's paces. When asked who his favorite artists are, he responded Stanley Turentine, The Crusaders, Gato, Jr. Walker, Larry Carlton, Jimmy McGriff and Stephane Grappelli. Take your pick, Glenn is an artist that brings all his influences out to share.
Ever lace up a pair of shoes that made you feel cool and hip? Track 8 might be the tune to tap to. "New Shoes" feel like Glenn's rendition of New York leather making a Macys move. A serious cross between the styles of Glenn, Ray and Toots Thielman (Glenn hums the harp), it has all the wrappings of a Ray Obiedo piece but Glenn's sax sets this tune apart from the recent Ray offering. Groove-keepers Jeff Narell and Billy Johnson keep the step in time. Hear Glenn blow the train's whistle again?
Glenn and Ray got pretty tight during the production of this CD. As tight as the mixing "New Shoes" bow ties with funk and R&B. Glenn says of Ray's involvement:
"I spent a lot of time at Ray's house working on this CD and have routinely been amazed by the depth of his musical ability. Playing, writing, arranging, producing, he has the ability to wear all these hats. He understands what each instrument should be doing on a smooth jazz tune, and I think that is an invaluable skill."Michael Franks has this song called "Sunday Morning Here With You". (Saw him last week in VA Beach.) In it, he talks about lounging around on a sun-filled Sunday morning with his wife's orange marmalade and apple blossom kisses. Track 9, Glenn's "Quiet Day of Love" might be a good follow-up. Sounding as if the morning is taking place in a Spanished courtyard, "Quiet Day of Love" has just one thing missing, the room overlooking the street with the bullfight stadium up the block. Lady, clappers in clasp, and with a fresh wax on the tall heel, stomps to attention then dances around the table. Blow Glenn blow. Hear the soft soundscape in the background keyed in by Kevin Norris. Glenn brings the below the boarder boys here, in the house, and even wit da big hats. Frank Martin on the large whites, Steve Erquiaga on strum, Celso Alberti on the set and Marquinho Brazil on the 'cussion cushion.
Glenn and Steve tiptoe, "Softly Spoken" , onto the next and last track. Train's lost somewhere between Paris and Southeast Europe now. Haus'd down, lead raindrops on the roof, mud on the face, memories of what used to be. Why do the bullets rain? Martin's coming back, He'll free them too. Through the ground so mucked, it will take your shoes too He'll walk. Rich Kuhns accepts with his accordion. Mike Poiro martches the group through to the end, a bell's ring exit.