Saxophonist Glenn Cashman owns a warm tone that comes with a crystal clear persuasion. As he converses with pianist Tom Ranier on this program of standards and originals, you can feel the ease with which the two artists communicate. In music, as well as with person-to-person communication, tone can make a difference between understanding and missing the point. Cashman's warm tone comes with a full body and seamless phrases that allow him to connect his ideas to the piano's perceived melodies.
With the dreamy "Blue in Green," Ranier paints a sonic seascape of ocean currents and subtle tidal action. Piano and saxophone blend as two casual forces that swim for hours and hours with a linear action that rises and falls gently with the swell of the ocean current. Cashman's fluid currents and Ranier's effervescent cascades combine to form a beautiful aquamarine portrait.
Like the dreamy title ballad, the program flows smoothly with cohesive ties. Most of the session, however, drives with the kind of energy that provides a feeling of subtle animation. The saxophone moves swiftly over improvised melodic refrains while the piano answers with rhythmic responses. "Hot House" drives with a light Latin beat that allows both artists to integrate syncopation with melodic variations. Without bass and drums, it's up to both of them to maintain a focus. This, they do seamlessly, as if bass and drums were never invented.
Ranier and Cashman both grew up in Southern California, but their careers have taken them in different geographical directions. One teaches at UCLA, while the other teaches at Colgate University in New York. Their musical relationship hasn't missed a beat, however, as both artists reveal on Blue in Green.
Two compositions by Cashman portray his inexhaustible musical palette. "Cheryl," a sincere ballad, brings tears to one's eyes with its heartfelt plea. Like a flower in bloom, the song generates an aura of respect for the stillness that it exposes. Both piano and saxophone give the song a graceful texture that flows lovingly. In contrast, Cashman's "Reverend Waters Returns" places both artists in a gospel groove with a celebratory swagger. Saxophone honks and shouts with praise while piano underscores with a thunderous romp.
On "If I Were a Bell" they return to the tradition of bebop and its eloquent form of improvised communication. Like two old friends hanging out and talking about the good old days, Cashman and Ranier tell it the way we all feel it. Blue and Green comes highly recommended for its personal musical fit.
Personnel: Glenn Cashman: tenor saxophone; Tom Ranier: piano.