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Ernst Glerum: Omnibus One

Ernst Glerum’s oddball recording Omnibus One (Favorite) is really two distinct sessions rolled into one. The first features Glerum, surprisingly, on piano rather than bass, which is played by Clemens van der Feen, and drummer Owen Hart Jr. Glerum, to his credit, doesn’t embarrass himself on the piano, though he doesn’t attempt anything all that tricky either. He sticks to simple melodies and improvises over midtempo gospel- and R&B-based tunes. The band gives the music a modern touch, thanks in large part to Hart, who updates New Orleans swing with touches of hip-hop. In more spirited moments, they can sound like a polite European echo of Medeski, Martin and Wood. Glerum alternates tracks by his piano trio with those from his second group, a trio including van der Feen again, Han Bennink on drums and Glerum now doubling on bass. This two- bass trio isn’t the grandstanding move it might at first appear, as Glerum and van der Feen make a collaborative effort out of it. They trade blues choruses, perform unison themes and even, on a thoroughly weird run through Coltrane’s “Naima,” churn out something like bowed country fiddle. Predictably murky and a little bit camp but also, in the end, winning. Glerum even tosses in a terrific version of Slam Stewart’s “Slam’s Blues,” as if to show that he’s completely in on the joke.

Originally Published