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Bassist Dan Dean is no stranger to the format of the intimate duo. His teaming with vibraphonist Tom Collier on the superb and aptly titled Duets (Origin Records, 2005) was a bright sparkling gem of a recording. On 2 5 1 he goes for a broader exploration of that sound, pairing up with four of his favorite keyboard players.
The generous set, coming in at nearly eighty minutes, opens with the tried and true American Songbook jewel, "S'Wonderful." Kenny Werner sits in the piano chair for an effervescent take on George Gershwin's familiar melody, the piano bubbling and bouncing. Dean's bass is deep and tight in the groove, laying the foundation for a joyously implacable momentum.
Antonio Carlos Jobim's "One Note Samba" introduces Larry Goldings on Hammond B3 organ, injecting some soul into the Bossa rhythms. The choice of Goldings is an inspired one. His B3 work on four tunes that are shuffled in with seven other piano workouts mixes up the sound and keeps the music interesting. The organist takes things down south on "Georgia on My Mind;" he also gets seriously soulful on James Brown's classic "I Got You (I Feel Good)" and turns Thelonious Monk's "In Walked Bud" into a cool breeze romp.
The set is something of a jazz standards/Great American Songbook 101 class. On the perennially familiar "Lover Man," a classic vehicle for Billie Holiday and Charlie Parker, Dean teams with Gil Goldstein, whose accordion gives the tunes a reverent mood in the style of a church organ. Goldstein plays piano on Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's "All the Things You Are," opening in a spare, space-laden reverie until Dean and Goldstein borrow Charlie Parker's riff from his take on tune, cranking the sound into a bright and extroverted atmosphere.
George Duke contributes the only non-classic to the set with his "It's On." It's a funky conversation between his piano and the leader's bass, with some flourishes in the style of Oscar Peterson thrown in. Duke displays a supple touch on "Stella By Starlight," injected with dazzling runs and a playful exuberance. Kenny Werner meditates on "Body and Soul" to close out the show. Dean's bass is just a whisper, a gentle heartbeat behind the pensive melody. It's perfect close to a wonderful set of duets.
Track Listing: S'Wonderful; One Note Samba; All the Things You Are; It's On; Dolphin Dance; Georgia On My Mind; Stella By Starlight; I Got You (I Feel Good); Lover Man; In Walked Bud; Body and Soul.
Personnel: Dan Dean: electric bass; George Duke: piano (4, 7); Larry Goldings: Hammond B3 Organ (2, 6, 8, 10); Gil Goldstein: piano and accordion (3, 9); Kenny Werner: piano (1, 5, 11).