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Throughout the annals of modern jazz few have successfully pulled off or attempted solo upright-acoustic bass recordings. Dave Holland, Miroslav Vitous and Michael Formanek have done it, yet the twist here is the duo bass performances of “Art Ensemble of Chicago’s Malachi Favors Maghostut and Tatsu Aoki. 2 X 4 represents a series of compositions and improvisations yet portrays the bass as a source of spiritual empowerment or in the mythical sense, a healing force of sorts. The good news lies within the compositions and sense of unity or communal approach between Favors Maghostut and Aoki. 2X4 is surprisingly musical and not quite as austere or rigid as one might expect.
The opening piece, appropriately titled, “Introduction” features the duo utilizing various small percussion instruments and flute. Here, the motif resembles an African tribal ritual, which perhaps sets the stage for the ensuing spiritual and highly conversational encounters from these master bass technicians. “Chopstick Blues” features strong rhythmic elements as either Favors or Aoki resort to tapping out a beat on the bass strings. “Call of the Dogon” is delightfully conversational and broad in scope through effective utilization of tone control, variances in pitch and emotional arco-bass work. A strong sense of direction and purposefulness prevails throughout this recording. “On Do, Ondo” is a blast! This composition evokes memories of “The Ronettes” or 1960’s American Bandstand fare for it’s bouncy, appealing rhythmic structure and enchanting melody line. On this track, the twosome are astute and witty as they maintain an upbeat feel. “Reunion features more percussion work as the closer, “A Long Time Ago” contains a good dose of improvisation and engaging arco bass work over a steady yet implied rhythmic pattern.
On 2X4 it does not matter which artist is performing any given part or motif at any specific interval. The synergy makes for a soulful experience via an absorbing yet fascinating series of duets from two pro’s who share similar visions and aspirations. * * * *