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These fastidious dialogues between saxophonist Daniel Ian Smith and pianist Yuki Arimasa are seldom less than engaging, sometimes even seductive — but like Pavlov’s dogs, every time Arimasa made an entrance I listened for the sound of bass and drums. It never came. Hidebound traditionalist that I am, I missed it. Others may not. To them I would commend what is there: perceptive interplay between two musicians of commendable skills that earns one’s consideration and swings as often as it can under the circumstances. As if to test the waters, Smith/Arimasa open with two standards, “Beautiful Love” and “Alone Together,” before venturing into more uncommon territory with Kenny Kirkland’s charming ballad, “Dienda.” After another standard, Victor Young’s “Weaver of Dreams,” the partners engage in the first of two spontaneous “Dialogues” (which encompass, in our opinion, the most adventurous yet least absorbing moments on the disc), flex their improvisational muscles on Coltrane’s swift–moving “26–2” and gently caress Smith’s ballad, “For Eileen.” Following “Dialogue No. 2” they close with Arimasa’s rhythmically intense “Blues Daniel” and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “How Insensitive” (emphasizing its more romantic aspects in a sensuous reading). Smith plays tenor on tracks 1, 4, 5, 7 and 9, soprano on the others, with ample technique and an inviting sound on either. Arimasa is also technically sound, and can play as delicately or forcefully as required. For those who appreciate the sort of unplanned and personal conversations embarked upon by two accomplished musicians, this one is worth checking out.
Track listing: Beautiful Love; Alone Together; Dienda; Weaver of Dreams; Dialogue No. 1; 26–2; For Eileen; Dialogue No. 2; Blues Daniel; How Insensitive (59:28).
Daniel Ian Smith, soprano, tenor saxophones; Yuki Arimasa, piano.