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Han Bennink/Curtis Clark/Ernst Glerum: Home Safely

Famously, Ornette Coleman performed without a pianist in his band for decades. That didn’t stop a high-school-aged Curtis Clark from trying to convince Coleman that he just hadn’t heard the right pianist. Who knows how a more persuasive Clark might have turned out. As it happened, the pianist who failed to break the Ornette Coleman piano barrier developed into a mainstream if quirky player with a graceful sense of swing. The underexposed American spent a healthy chunk of his career playing in the Netherlands, and so it’s not at all surprising to find that he’s turned up on Home Safely, a decade-old session and inaugural release for bassist Ernst Glerum’s new label, Favorite. The date features a pair of Dutchmen, Glerum and drummer Han Bennink, in support of Clark, who also wrote all the compositions. Home Safely showcases Clark’s modest compositions and his dignified, spare touch, which can recall John Lewis. It also exposes his tendency to fixate on his changes and let the momentum seep right out of the music. Bennink resorts to some especially snappy swing just to keep things moving, but it’s label boss Glerum who makes the best impression. Much of the time, his active, octave-jumping bass lines are the most interesting thing going.

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