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Randy Klein's Two Duos: What's Next? (2012)

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Randy Klein's Two Duos: What's Next? How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Randy Klein launched his Two Duos series with Sunday Morning (Jazzheads, 2010), pairing the pianist up with trombonist Chris Washburne
Chris Washburne

trombone
and tenor saxophonist Oleg Kireyev
Oleg Kireyev
Oleg Kireyev
b.1963
sax, tenor
, but he leaves the horns behind for this follow-up. This time around, Klein turns to two different, but equally skilled string men. Guitarist Alex Skolnick
Alex Skolnick
b.1968
guitar
, reborn as a jazz guitarist but best-known as a heavy metal icon thanks to his work with Testament, and bassist Boris Kozlov
Boris Kozlov
Boris Kozlov
b.1967
bass
, who anchors the Mingus Big Band
Mingus Big Band
Mingus Big Band

band/orchestra
with his acoustic axe but wields his electric here, carry the torch passed along by the horns.

The concept hasn't changed at all from the first record, as both albums are all-original affairs that contain a dozen tracks programmed in back-and-forth fashion, but the end result differs a bit. The horns usually stood apart from Klein's piano, and each other, in terms of sound and intent; Skolnick's guitar and Kozlov's bass do not. Both men blend well with Klein and occupy a similar space in the music. This is a plus, in that Klein is able to create a more consistent state of mood and tone throughout, but it has a slight downside in that a sense of sameness becomes a bit too prevalent in the middle of the program.

Things start off in stellar fashion, with Klein and Skolnick working through "Exalted Kingdom," which could be mistaken for a McCoy Tyner
McCoy Tyner
McCoy Tyner
b.1938
piano
tune if the tempo were ratcheted up and percussive force was added to the mixture; of course, it sounds great without those musical additives and alterations. Hints of Chick Corea
Chick Corea
Chick Corea
b.1941
piano
surface on the Latin-tinged title track, which introduces the Klein-Kozlov combination, and things move along without a hitch from then on. Klein delivers some lighthearted piano work during "Dear Charles Mingus," turns reflective on the waltzing "Tea For Three," and brings out the tenderness with some help from Kozlov on "Inner Voice" and Skolnick on "In The Twilight Hours.." Clarity is ever-present throughout, as Skolnick's clean-toned lines ride comfortably over or within Klein's piano work and Kozlov's warm and occasionally guitar- like bass work adds a bit of weight to the proceedings.

Klein's Two Duos dates are, thus far, about one-plus-one rapport and intimacy, and both albums deserve high marks in these areas. It will be interesting to see what Klein does to change things up again for the third volume of the series. Perhaps vibraphone and piano partners will fit the bill for the next one.


Track Listing: Exalted Kingdom; What's Next; Casa China; Dear Charles Mingus; No; Lark; Where's My Glasses; Tea For Three; Pere La Chaise; Inner Voices; In The Twilight Hours; Return To Splendor.

Personnel: Randy Klein: piano; Alex Skolnick: guitar (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11); Boris Kozlov: bass (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12).

Record Label: Jazzheads


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