Shelly Berg & Frank Potenza: First Takes (2006)
Both artists are jazz educators in California as well as friends, and both are underappreciated by the general public. Potenza, a protege of Joe Pass, spent the latter part of the '90s with the Gene Harris Quartet and participated in Harris' final recording. He played on several albums on the TBA label during the 1980s. Berg, the son of trumpeter Jay Berg, also has appeared on several albums, including his own critically praised Will: A Tribute to Oscar Peterson (1997), with no less help than Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen.
First Takes opens with Potenza taking a bright tempo on the Brodzky/Cahn tune "Wonder Why" and Berg feeding him perfectly. There's a give and take to this duo that underscores the liners' commentary about their mutual admiration. When Berg plays the Fats Waller piece "Jitterbug Waltz," it is his turn to show off his ease with stride piano. The album continues with similar examples, including a revisitation of "Driftin'" (from Herbie Hancock's debut album, Takin' Off); "Tristeza," from first wave bossa nova; and Michel Legrand's "You Must Believe In Spring."
Track Listing: Wonder Why; Jitterbug Waltz; Virgo; Driftin'; Yesterdays; Three In One; Oil and Water; Tristeza; Tonk; You Must Believe in Spring.
Personnel: Frank Potenza: guitar; Shelly Berg: piano.
Record Label: Azica Records