The Glenious Inner Planet – The Glenious Inner Planet (2010)

Share this:

by S. Victor Aaron

OK, I relent. I was forced by the overwhelming evidence to do it. I had to create a new tag “Houston TX” because even though we’ve long had a “Texas” tag, the richness and diversity of good music originating from the Space City was more than enough on its own to demand its own category. Just on this space alone we’ve feted the contributions of The Crusaders, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Ronnie Laws, and even Jandek. I know we’ve barely scratched the surface, too. However, I’ll add another entry to this list: Glen Ackerman and his Glenious Inner Planet band.

Bassist, composer and bandleader Glen Ackerman always had an aptitude for music, at least since he was a kid destroying his parent’s stereo experimenting with tape loops. But they nurtured his musical interest, enrolling him in piano and guitar lessons. Eventually, Ackerman made the bass his instrument of choice and jazz his music form of choice, too. His skills made him one of the top bass players in the Houston jazz scene, and he also got to perform with jazz luminaries such as Randy Brecker, Bill Charlap and saxophonist Bill Evans.

Recently, Ackerman cobbled together some of Houston’s finest to make an album of his compositions. For both the band name and album name, he came up with the moniker The Glenious Inner Planet. The resulting disc went on sale just this past August 31.

For this band and record, Ackerman called upon the services of Woody Witt (reeds), Joel Fulgham and J.D. Guzman (drums), Ted Wenglinski (keyboards), and Chris Cortez and Paul Chester (guitars). Fulgham, Cortez (who is also the engineer and executive producer) and Witt were also part of Harvie S’s “Houston” band that recorded his terrific record from earlier this year, Cocolamus Bridge.

Ackerman went through a phase after high school where he dabbled in the electric sounds of rock before returning to jazz. However, he’s retained what he picked up from the rock side and incorporated those ideas when making The Glenious Inner Planet. Yes, it’s a fusion record through and through, but one that showcases the uncommon world—er, planet—of Ackerman’s compositions.

Or even Ackerman’s interpretations of other folk’s compositions: the album kicks off with a recreation of Dave Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo a la Turk,” renamed “Blue Rondo a la Raad.” Some chords are substituted here and there, but the tricky 9/8 meter is left intact, and the solo portions (played by Cortez and Witt) are done in regular ol’ 4/4 time like the original.

Form there, the titles sometimes get zanier, but the music behind these titles are no joke. “There Is A Drop of Roppongi On My Shorts” is a sweet slice of seventies-style funk-jazz. “Inner Planet” is a wonderful interplay of and Ackerman’s rumbling bass, Wenglinski’s electric piano and Guzman’s drums makes excellent use of the spaces between the notes as much as the notes themselves, as Witt and Chester improvise gingerly over them. “Khalil” drives the Planet into ballad territory, using Arabic influences to construct an exotic, gently flowing melody. In keeping with the Middle Eastern spirit, Ackerman’s acoustic bass solo on this track roughly mimics an oud. Ackerman then struts his stuff on the electric bass during the hard swinging “Potato Wagon.” A few tracks later, “The Angel Of The Odd” closes the album with a brooding bass-heavy riff and space mixed in with sound, as Chester and Witt playfully follow each other’s notes.

The Glenious Inner Planet is an album that contains a lot of nifty turns and many little things that are the mark of a serious effort, and yet it always sounds like these guys are having fun. There should be more fusion records like these. Leave it to some Houston guys to go out and make such a record.

The Glenious Inner Planet is sold by Blue Bamboo Music. Visit Mr. Ackerman’s myspace page here.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
Share this:
Close