Howard Alden/Bucky Pizzarelli: In a Mellow Tone (2004)
Good taste never goes out of style and knows no demographic, as this delicate album by two masters of the seven-string demonstrates. The 45-year old Alden and the 77-year old Pizzarelli may be a generation apart, but they are certainly cut from the same cloth.
A great example of how their comping and strumming styles mesh so effortlessly is heard on "Tangerine," where they trade back and forth like one guitarist overdubbed on two tracks. "Cherokee" starts with a tom-tom-inspired beat and turns into a mutual admiration society meeting with the two swapping solos back and forth with abandon.
They take "Three Little Words" at an appropriately brisk tempo, but never do you get the impression that the old master and the young buck are trying to outdo each other. Rather, the feeling is of two people comfortable with each other and a shared interpretation of the material.
Alden is showcased by himself on two tunes, Bix Beiderbecke's "In the Dark," and ever-so-briefly on an old warhorse, "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles." Alden imbues the Bix tune with a light and airy feel and rids "Bubbles" of any sense of cliché with a treatment that is beautifully introspective.
The two manage to breathe new life into "Jitterbug Waltz," as if that was even necessary, taking turns dancing their way around the melody in single notes and chord phrasing. Their solos culminate in a fine bit of counterpoint before returning to the tune's basic structure.
This album is a testament to both Pizzarelli's enduring genius on the guitar and Alden's innate ability to absorb the styles of those who came before and come up with something of his own making.
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Track Listing: 1. In a Mellow Tone (7:32) 2. Do Nothing 'Till You Hear from Me (7:04) 3. Tangerine (4:59) 4. Snow Fall (5:23) 5. Cherokee (5:11) 6. In the Dark (3:03) 7. The Very Thought of You (4:09) 8. Three Little Words (3:53) 9. What's New? (6:07) 10. Moon Glow (4:58) 11. Jitterbug Waltz (6:15) 12. I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles (1:22) 13. Blues for Emmett (5:23)
Personnel: Howard Alden and Bucky Pizzarelli: guitar.