Dave Glasser: Above the Clouds

With names like Clark Terry, Sarah Vaughan, Illinois Jacquet and Dizzy Gillespie gilding his résumé, you’d expect alto saxophonist Dave Glasser to be a solid mainstreamer before hearing him play a note. No surprise. He is-a limpid-toned, lyrical player in the tradition of the great cool-school altoists. According to Nat Hentoff’s liner notes, Lee Konitz was Glasser’s first mentor, yet I also hear traces of Paul Desmond and, on uptempo tunes and the aptly titled “A Little Funky” (very little), Art Pepper. Clarity and subtlety are critical components of Glasser’s playing. He follows each distinctly rendered idea to its logical conclusion, and pays great attention to tonal nuance. His sense of swing is impeccable. The rhythm section provides appropriately unobtrusive support: Carl Allen supplies the ching-ching-a-ching, Dennis Irwin and Larry Ham the Aebersold-worthy bass and piano, respectively (Ham is also a deft soloist). Lightness is the order of the day, which can be a nice thing when it’s done well, as this mostly is (a hokey version of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” being a notable exception). Glasser’s aims are modest. He accomplishes them with some grace.