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Sax-piano duets have an illustrious lineage. The vast majority have relied on compositional signposts to direct their musings, something avoided on these two studio dates that unite seasoned musicians who have made infrequent joint forays into the territory.
First up is the appropriately named Interaction from pianist Joel Futterman and saxophone master Kidd Jordan. Since 1994, they have appeared in each other's company though this is only their second duet recording. Over two long improvised pieces, totaling 54 minutes, they go through numerous moods, by turns dashing, intense, spiritual, playful and tender, tracking each other closely. Jordan's burnished bittersweet tenor saxophone with its squealing falsetto contains a bluesy undercurrent even at his most abstract moments and at times evokes the specter of Trane playing "I Want To Talk About You." Futterman is more rolling and lyrical than Cecil Taylor, but demonstrating similar speed, articulation and stamina. Their almost unbroken outpouring makes for a demanding listen worth persevering to appreciate.
Eight collectively generated cuts in a 49-minute session chronicle the meeting of pianist Matthew Shipp and reedman Sabir Mateen on SAMA. Though both stalwarts of the NYC free scene, this is their first duo. Curiously there is more restraint in evidence than one might expect from their reputations. They often reach the edge but rarely leap over it. Mateen forgoes his regular reed arsenal to concentrate solely on clarinet. Perhaps the chamber instrumentation exerted an influence on both men's thinking as Shipp somewhat reins in his customary hammered repetitions and motifs, emphasizing his brooding romantic side. That's not to say there are no fireworks. Mateen's fluent mellifluous blowing escapes into the stratosphere on "SAMA Five" while Shipp's thunderclap clusters provide a stirring climax in "SAMA Two." Ultimately, though the parts are great, this set doesn't transcend them.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: part one; part two.
Personnel: Joel Futterman: piano; Kidd Jordan: tenor saxophone.
Tracks: SAMA ONE; SAMA TWO; SAMA THREE; SAMA FOUR; SAMA FIVE; SAMA SIX; SAMA SEVEN; SAMA EIGHT.
Personnel: Matthew Shipp: piano; Sabir Mateen: clarinet.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.