Russ Lossing / John Hebert: Line Up (2008)
The profound depth of the interactions between pianist Russ Lossing and bassist John Hebert on their new duo recording bears the mark of a shared history and mutual respect and enthusiasm. Hebert and Lossing have both worked with many great artists who have shaped the history of jazz, including Paul Motian, Andrew Hill, Dave Liebman and John Abercrombie, as well as many more recent innovators like Mat Maneri, Uri Caine, Fred Hersch, Greg Osby and Mark Dresser. There may be a wealth of experience that informs these duets, but these two have also been working together for many years, having made two wonderful trio discs together prior to this release. The duo setting is something of a rarity and Lossing and Hebert took the opportunity to explore the potential of the unique format.
Line Up is one of the most compelling inquiries into the piano/bass duet context in recent years. In the liner notes, a great deal of attention is paid to what is perhaps the most notable predecessor, the duets between Duke Ellington and bassist Jimmy Blanton, who is widely credited to have introduced the bass as a solo voice in jazz. The long shadow cast by this precedent is felt throughout the record, no matter how far removed the duo's statements may be from that initial inspiration.
The work presented here is often based on spontaneous musical interaction rather than composition, though both artists do present their own pieces here, as well as one each by Irving Berlin and the aforementioned Ellington. In all cases, the freedom and expressionism with which both approach the composed material enables a seamless juxtaposition of the written and improvised works. The music puts abstraction in the fore, with ideas colliding throughout the record. This is a very modernist agenda with the express intention of conveying the artists' very personal relationships with many of their predecessors, while simultaneously offering their own contribution.
Track Listing: Monotype; Fais Do-Do; Blind Pig; Type A; Hitchcock; Line Up; All Alone; Hamburg; Stick The Landing; For A. H.; Type O; Cross Circuits; Whirlygig; Pitter Panther Patter.
Personnel: Russ Lossing: piano; John Hebert: bass.