Some would argue that it's human nature to settle into a comfort zone as one gets older. Many people find themselves less interested in new developments, instead listening to the music of their youth, watching movies from the same time, and generally finding it more and more difficult to connect to contemporary things. When that happens to a person who has spent their life in some form of creative pursuit, it's often the kiss of death. If they've built a large enough audience they might be able to continue revisiting past triumphs, and that audiencewho has likely aged right along with the artistis just as happy for things to remain status quo. But they'll always be remembered for past innovations rather than being intrepid explorers to the very end.
That's never been the case with Jim Hall. Now in his mid-seventies, the guitarist was instrumental in defining the term "chamber jazz with reed player Jimmy Giuffre in the mid-1950s. In ensuing years his economic styleconcerned more with the inherent rightness of every note than more ego-driven concernshas made him a player in demand by everyone from Paul Desmond to Ornette Coleman. In recent years he's found himself collaborating with younger guitarists like Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell, who consider Hall's "music first approach to be instrumental in their own development.
Twice in his career he's broken new ground in the area of conversational jazz: first on two duet collaborations with pianist Bill Evans, with whom he's often stylistically associated1963's Undercurrent and 1966's Intermodulationand later with George Shearing, on 1981's First Edition. Since then Hall has worked with countless artists, but never in the distinctive combination of the piano/guitar duountil now.
Italian pianist Enrico Pieranunzi's career has been unfolding as gradually as Hall's, and for decades. Recent albums include this year's trio Special Encounter with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian, and 2003's quintet FelliniJazz, with Chris Potter and Kenny Wheeler appearing atop the same rhythm section. They have illustrated the kind of stylistic breadth that's possible when music from the mainstream is also informed by classical impressionism and some elements of free jazz.
Duologues brings Hall and Pieranunzi together for a program of spontaneous improvisations and original compositions defined by a shared sense of adventure. Hall's tone combines occasionally processed hollowbody warmth with an organic acoustic sound, bringing surprising textural breadth. Piano/guitar duets run the inherent risk of sounding cluttered, yet Hall and Pieranunzieven when engaged in total free playalways use their ears, creating pieces that are rich but never busy.
While the duo occasionally leans to the lyricalPiernanunzi's jazz waltz "From E. to C. and Jane Hall's "Something Tells Me the overall atmosphere is more experimental. Both players' inherent economy and tendency to develop themes that, even at their most angular, are eminently singable makes Duologues a kind of approachable free jazz: easy on the ears, but not for the lazy-mindedor for those afraid to leave their comfort zone.
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Personnel: Jim Hall: electric guitar; Enrico Pieranunzi: piano.