If the duo of drummer Whit Dickey and cornetist Kirk Knuffke were a baseball team, their signature style would be small ball, the opposite of towering home runs and 100 mph fast balls. They would win games like they sound here with tight efficient playing. They lay down perfect bunts and easily turn the double play with these improvisations. Opening with "Soaring," the sounds hesitates without being reluctant. Neither party, both of whom have the ability, attempts to overwhelm the other with their instrument's loudness.
If this recording was a confabulation, it would be considered a conversation rather than a debate. Dickey, whose playing has matched the energy outlays of firebrands like David S. Ware and Matthew Shipp, masters the smallest of gestures heard on "Weave 1" and "Weave 2" with almost whispered brushwork and cymbal dusting.
If the pair were bottling wine, it wouldn't be Super Tuscans or bold Cabernet Sauvignons. Knuffke is more disposed to subtle flavors. "Oblique Blessing" coats the ear with hints of minerals and lavender. That shouldn't be a surprise for listeners of his duos with Harold Danko, Michael Bisio, Karl Berger, Jesse Stacken, or Ted Brown.
Drone Dream is a follow-up to the duo's Fierce Silence (Clean Feed, 2016), and like that, this outing may be best described as poetry in motion. It roars like Carl Sandburg's "Fog," coming in on little cat feet.
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