Glass onstage Oslo, Norway 2007
|Origin||Port Townsend, Washington, USA|
|Years active||1968–1977, 1999–present|
|Labels||Musea, Relentless Pursuit|
|Associated acts||Jeff Joad & The Joads|
|Website||Glass official website|
|Past members||Paul Black (drums)
Mark Hawley (electric violin)
Erik Poulsen (Sound Engineer, Photographer)
Glass is a progressive rock trio from the Pacific Northwest who play complex original instrumental symphonic jazz-rock. The group consists of Greg Sherman (born 1954) on keyboards, vibes & Mellotron, his brother Jeff Sherman (b. 1952) on bass guitar, guitar, bass pedals and keyboards, and their childhood friend Jerry Cook (b. 1953) on drums and percussion.
Glass began in the 1960s as a Port Townsend-based rock band called The Vaguest Notion, playing covers and the occasional original piece. On September 6, 1968 they attended a Jimi Hendrix concert at the Seattle Center Coliseum where the opening act was the British band The Soft Machine. They were transfixed by The Soft Machine, a guitar-less power trio. Shortly thereafter The Vaguest Notion changed their name to Glass and began playing originals exclusively. In 1970 Jeff and Greg attended the Famous Arrangers Clinic in Las Vegas, further refining their song-writing skills. Moving to Olympia, Washington in 1971 to attend The Evergreen State College, they quickly became favorites on-campus for their spirited performances. Numerous live performances in and around Olympia, Seattle, Tacoma, Bellingham, Port Townsend and other Pacific Northwest venues (including the first-ever live broadcast concert on KAOS-FM) gave them considerable local attention and accolades. They received their best reception at the first Jimi Hendrix Memorial Concert in Seattle (January 22, 1971 at the Eagles Auditorium Building) where they were the only band to play totally original material. Professional studio recordings were made in 1975, which they then shopped around to various record labels in an attempt to land a record contract.
Unfortunately the mid-1970s was not a good time for rehearsal-intensive progressive rock. The music industry was being taken over by punk rock and disco to the point where even well-established rock acts were being dropped from their labels. Despite their well-honed local reputation, Glass was not offered a contract by any of the dozens of labels they approached on the West Coast and in New York. Two members even undertook a trip to London in the summer of 1975 to speak with industry representatives in the birthplace of progressive rock, but if anything the economic and musical depression was even worse in England.
In 1977 additional recordings were made at Seattle's premiere Kaye-Smith Studios, but despite very positive comments from everyone who heard them, no recording contract was forthcoming. Not for lack of trying.
Disappointed and disillusioned, the band officially went into remission rather than compromise. The band members went their separate ways, to pursue solo careers (see Jeff Sherman (musician)), start families and generally pretend to be normal people.
Twenty years passed. By the mid-1990s a full-scale progressive rock revival was brewing, thanks to the internet and the new economics of CD releases. Glass began contemplating a comeback and started testing the waters, contacting old fans, making new business connections. In 1999 rehearsals began, and the old spark was still there. Their old tapes were dusted off and digitized. Glass started their own small-run record label, the appropriately-named Relentless Pursuit Records, to release Glass music and solo recordings by the band members.
After considerable digital cleanup and editing, a 2-CD boxed set of all of their professional (and some amateur) recordings from 1973–1977 was released, entitled No Stranger To The Skies. Following the resounding success of that release a third volume was released the following year. Several concerts were arranged and performed, not only in the Pacific Northwest but also in Mexico (BajaProg Festival in 2002 and 2004), ProgWest Festival (Claremont CA, 2001), and Progman Cometh Festival (Seattle 2002 and 2003).
Contract At Last
The acclaim garnered by their live performances attracted the attention of French independent progressive rock label Musea Records, who in 2004 offered to re-release No Stranger To The Skies and give it worldwide distribution. This release finally brought Glass global recognition.
Simultaneously the Sherman brothers were brimming with ideas for new music, and began writing and rehearsing new material for their "first all-original album in 27 years." That album, Illuminations, was produced by keyboardist Greg Sherman and featured a cover photo by Glass's long-time engineer and sound man Erik Poulsen. It was released by Musea in 2005 to uniformly great reviews. Bringing the music full circle, Illuminations features guest appearances by some of the Canterbury scene's best musicians—the same movement that had originally sparked the formation of Glass some 37 years earlier—including Hugh Hopper (ex-Soft Machine), Richard Sinclair and Phil Miller.
In October 2007 Glass embarked on their first-ever European tour to support their newly released live recording on Musea, Glass Live at Progman Cometh.
Glass returned to the recording studio in 2008 and 2009 to record their 4th album for Musea, entitled Spectrum Principle. It was released worldwide on October 15, 2010. Produced by drummer Jerry Cook, it is a departure from their previous studio album Illuminations, featuring a wilder, more experimental sound.
In April 2011 Glass came back to their hometown of Port Townsend, Washington to record a "live in-the-studio" album. They booked the old Arcadia Barn, where they had recorded thirty-eight years earlier, now renovated and called "The Palindrome." Produced by bassist Jeff Sherman, the album was recorded in Zen style; the band did not undergo the usual months of pre-recording preparations but instead came together in the studio and played whatever ideas came to mind. These recordings were made largely on period instruments, in the old-fashioned way, directly to a two-track analog tape recorder, just as they had in 1973. They were also given permission to record inside The First Presbyterian Church of Port Townsend on their magnificent 1849 Whalley-Genung pipe organ. The album, titled Palindrome, was mastered by Michael King (engineer and author of "Wrong Movements: A Robert Wyatt Biography") and released in 2014 on Musea Records.
In April 2014 Glass once again began working on a new album, tentatively entitled Emergence. It's to be produced by Greg Sherman and will reportedly be a concept album like his previous production Illuminations. It is expected that Musea will release it in mid-2016.
Glass has a short cameo in the 2015 film about the Canterbury scene, Romantic Warriors III: Canterbury Tales, and appears more extensively (over 26 minutes of performance footage, plus two interviews) in the companion disc Romantic Warriors III: Special Features DVD, both from Zeitgeist Media.
- 2001: No Stranger To The Skies, Vol.s I & II (Relentless Pursuit Records RD4128)
- 2002: No Stranger To The Skies, Vol. III (Relentless Pursuit Records RD4128-III)
- 2004: No Stranger To The Skies (Musea Records FGBG 4516.AR)
- 2005: Illuminations (Musea Records FGBG 4594.AR)
- 2007: Glass Live At Progman Cometh (Musea Records FGBG 4736.AR)
- 2010: Spectrum Principle (Musea Records FGBG 4854)
- 2014: Palindrome (Musea Records FGBG 4935)
- 2016: Emergence (forthcoming)
- 2015: Romantic Warriors III: Canterbury Tales (DVD)
- 2016: Got Canterbury? Romantic Warriors III: Special Features DVD (DVD)
- Description of the Hendrix Memorial fundraiser from HistoryLink
- NSTTS review at Progressor
- NSTTS review at Tarkus
- NSTTS-III review at Geocities
- BajaProg 2004 at Relentless Pursuit
- ProgWest 2001 at Relentless Pursuit
- Illuminations review at Aural Innovations
- Illuminations review at Geocities
- Illuminations review at ProgArchives
- Spectrum Principle review at ProgNaut
- Spectrum Principle review at Aural Innovations
- Spectrum Principle review at ProgressoR
- Palindrome review at ProgArchives
- YouTube video off Palindrome