Tommy Flanagan / Jaki Byard: The Magic of 2 (2013)

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Tommy Flanagan / Jaki Byard: The Magic of 2
One of San Francisco's most famous jazz venues, Keystone Korner, closed in 1983. It was a favorite venue of the top jazz players of the day, and several landmark live albums by pianists Bill Evans
Bill Evans
Bill Evans
1929 - 1980
piano
and McCoy Tyner
McCoy Tyner
McCoy Tyner
b.1938
piano
, and saxophonists Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Rahsaan Roland Kirk
1936 - 1977
reeds
and Stan Getz
Stan Getz
Stan Getz
1927 - 1991
sax, tenor
, resulted from shows taped inside its hallowed hall.

The Magic of 2 showcases the piano talents of Tommy Flanagan
Tommy Flanagan
Tommy Flanagan
1930 - 2001
piano
(1930-2001) and Jaki Byard
Jaki Byard
Jaki Byard
1922 - 1999
piano
(1922-1999), live at the Keystone Korner in 1982, mixing duets with solos from each of the players.

Flanagan, the more traditionally straight-ahead of the two, played on dozens of enduring albums, including saxophonist John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
's Giant Steps (Atlantic, 1960), tenor sax titan Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
' Saxophone Colossus (Prestige, 1956), and alto sax man Art Pepper
Art Pepper
Art Pepper
1925 - 1982
sax, alto
's Straight Life (Galaxy, 1980), as well as Wes Montgomery
Wes Montgomery
Wes Montgomery
1925 - 1968
guitar
's The Incredible Guitar of Wes Montgomery (Riverside Records, 1960). Byard was a more exploratory player, with stints in the bands belonging to iconoclastic bassist Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
1922 - 1979
bass, acoustic
, the always out there reed/woodwind multi- instrumetalist Eric Dolphy
Eric Dolphy
Eric Dolphy
1928 - 1964
reeds
, and saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Rahsaan Roland Kirk
1936 - 1977
reeds
.

With their disparate histories and styles, this could seem like an unlikely and potentially ill-fitting pairing of talents. What holds it together—and indeed what makes for an exciting and truly inspired set—is their depth of knowledge of the jazz piano tradition, from ragtime and stride to bebop and swing, together with an unmistakable zest and joy for performing together before a live audience.

The duo opens with "Scrapple From the Apple," from the pen of alto saxophonist/bebop pioneer Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
1920 - 1955
sax, alto
, an ebullient seven-minute history lesson in jazz piano, swaggering through early twentieth century New York swing to the bawdy night life sparkle of New Orleans, making for a joyous jumble of its familiar melody. Byard and Flanagan trade solos on Cole Porter
Cole Porter
Cole Porter
1891 - 1964
composer/conductor
's "Just One of Those Things," opening the tune with a measured and melancholy mood that, three minutes in, shifts into a higher, lighter-stepping gear—bright and buoyant, sassy.

Flanagan and Byard also take their turns going it solo. Flanagan sticks with tunes from the pen of Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
's partner in music, Billy Strayhorn
Billy Strayhorn
Billy Strayhorn
1915 - 1967
piano
: "Something to Live For," pensive and elegant in Flanagan's hands; a bright, strutting take on "All Day Long"; and the often-covered "Chelsea Bridge,'' here with a dark and wistful edge. Byard leans in a more modern direction, covering Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
b.1950
keyboard
's lovely "Send OneYour Love," and serving up a rumbling, percussive take on flugelhornist Chuck Mangione
Chuck Mangione
Chuck Mangione
b.1940
flugelhorn
's "Land of Make Believe."

The duo closes on a rollicking roll with trumpeter Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
' "The Theme," shooting crisp notes out of lush cascades flowing over a dense rhythm—two piano giants at the top of their game, having the time of their lives.

Track Listing: Introduction; Scrapple From the Apple; Just One of Those Things; Satin Doll; Something to Live For; Send One Your Love; Our Delight; All Day Long; Sunday; Chelsea Bridge; Land of Make Believe; the theme.

Personnel: Tommy Flanagan: piano; Jaki Byard: piano.

Record Label: Resonance Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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