Dave Glenn's 2009 release explores the intersection of two truly American creations: baseball and jazz. Glenn is clearly a gifted trombonist and composer, who after years of working in New York City now teaches jazz at Whitman College in Washington state. Those New York years saw him playing with Gerry Mulligan; Blood, Sweat, and Tears; and countless others. Fruitful musical collaborations resulted, too including the outstanding musicians joining Glenn on this recording. Trumpeter Dave Scott and saxophonist rich Perry "flesh out" both the section playing and the improvisations. Gary Versace's gentle and nimble piano playing rides on top of solid ground with rhythm section-mates Hirschfield and Hebert.
Glenn's trombone playing is alternatively restrained and forceful He has a "Kenny Dorham-esque" quality to his sound: almost fragile, but never weak or inaccurate, and always "on the mark." The real strength on this recording, though , are the compositions. Glenn has established compositional "chops" ranging from the symphonic to the small. The careful balance of horns weaving in and out of unison, counterpoint, and solo lines fits quite well with the rhythm section's crystal clarity.
The tunes are all inspired by Glenn's attendance at 18 major league baseball games i six ballparks over just 19 days. This herculean task of fandom has been honored in the creation of a varied set of tunes ranging from a brisk second-line blues (Blues for Buck O'Neil), a lively modal tour-de-force (Lost in the Sun), to a contemporary bop title track (National Pastime). This record is not a "Mark McGuire-ish" beefed-up home-run slugger. A far better representation of the convergence of these two American traditions would be a consistent and straight-ahead "Ozzie Smith," that can always put the ball right where it needs to be.