An endorsement from Ron Carter is worthy of attention. Two upright bassists playing duets for sure gets your attention, if only for such a rarity. Then there are the twelve songs that grasp your attention. Bassists Rodney Jordan and Christian Fabian join forces for Conversations that have much to say and are spoken eloquently with vocabularies that are both diverse and connected. Both payers are adept soloists that conversely know how to leave space for each other, comp when necessary, and are most able to respond in kind to the substance or subject at hand.
The record features mostly Fabian and Jordan originals. A deft take on the classic "Body & Soul" is also in the mix along with two songs that were written nearly a thousand years ago. No, that is not a misprint. "Despiritu 32" and Despiritu #4" were both conceived by Hildegard von Bingen, the abbess of a German nunnery. She lived in the twelfth century. The tone rows, as they are referred to, were designed to heal people with tonality. Indeed the entire record is recorded in A=432hz, the standard of A until Mozart's time. The belief was that this tuning of A had healing effects on the listener's body. It is with that thought in mind that Jordan and Fabian conceived this record. That and the added meditative conversations that are of pure jazz foundations.
The record starts with "Just For You." It immediately introduces the elements that beautifully permeate the entire record. Both melodic and rhythmic conversational lines and leads are shared by the duo. Jordan beckons memories of Paul Chambers by taking his bow to the strings in "Happy To Be Alive." Quickly it glides more into the sound and feel of a violinist such as Stephane Grappelli or Jean-Luc Ponty, ultimately resonating more of the gritty hue of Polish violinist Zbigniew Seifert. It's then Fabian's turn to shine with the romantic strains of "My One and Only Love." He relates the tale with heartfelt notes that transport from attraction through the pursuit of happiness and the comfort of true love. Fabian and Jordan return to sharing solos and the depth of conversation in "Robin's Theme." Their note selections on this bouncy rhythmic piece are brilliant. None of the plentiful notes were wasted in this cerebral conversation that bursts with be-bop and glorious call and response. The groove continues with a taste of boogie as they continue to trade licks, answer each other's call, and conclude "The Ride Over" in unison. Side one of the vinyl concludes with a serendipitous look at "Body and Soul." Jordan brings a new language to the classic, soloing while Fabian comps spaciously creating room for Jordan to caress every note.
What could be called a co-title track picks up the pace to the point where one might think that there are three bassists at work. "Conversations #4" pushes the limits and expands the vocabulary. Brisk soloing by both Jordan and Fabian make this a toe tapping piece that really speaks to you. Conversely, they use more minimal note selections on "The Kind Giant" that conjures an expansive, majestic, Grand Canyon image. Illustrating that sometimes less is more. Next up are "Despiritu #2" and "Despiritu #4." The former has a rich jazz foundation that belies its time of creation. Both tone rows allow for some of the finest conversation on the record. Also, there is the soothing element that was purposed at creation. Jordan and Fabian are caretakers here, that applied diligence and modernization that was respectful to its origin. "432" is a Jordan and Fabian original that honors and expressly utilizes the healing and soothing properties of the tuning. Playing in unison, the conversation grew in blissful meditative steps designed to level or center the listener. "Conversations #1" finishes the discussion elevating off of a fresh pallet. Elements of avant-garde, classical, and jazz range from solemn to jagged edge. An intriguing conclusion that finds Jordan and Fabian in soloing conversation that clearly states the realization that there is much more to talk about. Musically rich, Conversations offers two bassists with dense vocabularies speaking their minds through the beauty of their chosen and shared voices.
Just For You; Happy To Be Alive; My One and Only Love; Robin's Theme; The Ride Over; Body and Soul; Conversations #4; The Kind Giant;
Despiritu #2; Despiritu #4; 432; Conversations #1.
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