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Lucian Ban (piano) and Alex Harding (woodwinds) have performed and recorded together for 20-years besides their prominent activities within global progressive jazz and improvisational circles. The universal language of jazz is conveyed here as Detroit-reared Harding and the Romanian born pianist gel to a variety of tempos amid solstice, reflective sentiment, off-centered blues balladry and bouncy grooves. Toss in some lyrically resplendent tapestries of sound and a crystalline audio production, you are liable to become entranced by the duo's moody vibes that are etched within an underlying sense of glee.
The musicians occasionally engage in some friendly fire but Harding's deep bass clarinet work on "Black Sea" is comped by Ban's lower register contrasts and loosely articulated Latin phrasings along with his playful picking of the piano strings that offer Harding some improvisational rhythmic support. Other works feature soul-stirring dialogues with Ban's up-tempo ostinato vamps and ascending block chords, adding a bit of tension and dynamic buildups on "Not That Kind Of Blues," countered by Harding's edgy wails and a catchy hook. Here, the duo rips through concise unison statements and ballsy exhortations as they build intensity and execute some reverse-engineering metrics along the way.
It's easy to detect that the duo has been collaborating all these years. At times they seem clairvoyant while interacting and reinventing, without rushing the game-plan by veering off into abstruse angles or rummaging through extended soloing blowouts. Essentially, there are many magical moments throughout this pleasurable and incisive set.
Track Listing: Dark Blue; Tough Love; Chakra; Black Sea; Monkey See; Not That Kind Of Blues; Esto; H.B;
Lowcountry Blue; The Invisible Man; Hymn.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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