Glenn Dickson / Wider than the sky

blob of sky colors and ordinary type

Glenn Dickson / Wider than the sky, 2022

CDs, MP3s available available from Bandcamp and from fine vendors and streaming services everywhere.

Glenn Dickson has been one of my favorite clarinet players for over 25 years. What makes him worth hearing isn't just his skill. It's also his ability to listen. In the time I have been aware of his music he has broadened from playing klezmer and other international folk music to more avant garde work. If you look at the sidebar to this review, you'll see links to his bands Shirim (klezmer) and Naftule's Dream (avant garde/experimental). In the last few years he has been doing more meditative music as well. I first became aware of it when he began playing at the maze in a local church. Now, driven faster, perhaps, by the self-imposed isolation of the pandemic, he has explored further and released a first recording of this meditative, exploratory work.

Although the opening Inroit seems initially to begin with doina phrasings, it quickly becomes apparent that this is more thoughtful. In this music, soundscapes, aided by looping, slowly unfold and build. The result, as on "Closer to the fire," isn't just meditative, but also reflects that familiarity with Balkan folk music patterns—Greek, Klezmer, say. One of the first things I realized was that I have heard similar musings before from bands such as Accordion Tribe, which will also, on occasion, play music as much about listening as defining a rhythm or beat. You'll hear similar experiments in the playing of Robert Fripp or flautist Paul Horn. Instead of hearing a beat, the mind begins exploring, pulled along by the sometimes soaring, sometimes meditative explorations of Dickson's playing.

At a time when so much seems to divide us, the spiritual impact of this music seems to pull people together, to invite not just listening to our own heartbeats, but to the world around us. If only for that, this is a wonderful antidote to divisiveness, and a wonderful accompaniment to being. The recording is available on Bandcamp, and at finer streaming services and cd vendors everywhere.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 11 September 2022.

Personnel this recording:
Glenn Dickson: clarinet, live loops

Song Titles

  1. Introit 5:27
  2. Closer to the fire 7:35
  3. Gentle touch 5:40
  4. Memories lost 13:10
  5. Pursuing winds 6:16
  6. Brave shines the sun 9:43
  7. Wider than the sky 15:53

All compositions by Glenn Dickson.

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