9

Steve Wilson/Lewis Nash: Duologue

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Steve Wilson/Lewis Nash: Duologue Saxophone and drum duos aren't as rare as some might believe, but a good percentage of such encounters are challenging, left-leaning affairs. John Coltrane's edgy encounters with Rashied Ali on Interstellar Space (Impulse!, 1974) emboldened many in the so-called avant-garde to marry these instruments time and again over the ensuing decades, yet few centrists seem as interested or willing to explore that territory. That's why a recording such as this, featuring man-for-all-seasons saxophonist Steve Wilson and paragon-of-class drummer Lewis Nash, is so special.

Nash, an occasional leader and first-call side man who's worked with everybody from vocalist Betty Carter to saxophonist Jimmy Heath to pianist Tommy Flanagan, and Wilson, a versatile saxophonist who's spent time working with drummer Ralph Peterson, pianist Chick Corea, bassist Christian McBride, and a good number of other greats, make for a perfect pair. They've been working together as a duo on-and-off since 2001, but Duologue marks the first time that one of their encounters has been captured for posterity.

The occasional number on this album finds this pair pushing outside the borders of expectations ("Black Gold"), but the majority of the music is in the wheelhouse(s) of both of these artists. Neither man radically alters his modus operandi to suit the setting, but the skill sets and strengths of both men, normally blended within a band setting, are now thrown into sharp relief. Nash's swinging brilliance, quick reflexes, and melodic bent are all plainly evident here, as are Wilson's lyrical side, playfulness, and rhythmic approach to conversation.

While a few Wilson originals show up on the playlist, the duologue carried on between these two is mostly centered on familiar material. They never obscure the melodic content of the music or toy too much with the qualities that have made these standards so popular, but the very nature of the circumstance they find themselves in leads them to broaden the scope of each piece. A sly and sexy take on "The Mooche" that opens on a brief saxophone fantasia and contains Nash's too-infrequent, smile-inducing pitch bends is one such example. Wilson's lyrical daydreaming on the "Bright Mississippi" portion of "Monk Medley Part 2," which leads to Nash's short cymbal-ic introduction to an energetic and rhythmically clipped take on "Four In One," is another.

There's much to admire here when this pair rides high through Ornette Coleman territory ("Happy House") or pleasantly travels through Fats Waller's world ("Jitterbug Waltz"), but it's also instructional to observe what these men do when they're left to their own devices. Plenty of solo opportunities arise throughout, and each man gets to step out on his own. Wilson delights with the short "Row Twelve," opening in searching fashion and allowing things to congeal into a more direct form of expression, and Nash completely owns Eddie Harris' "Freedom Jazz Dance," bringing melodic and rhythmic brilliance to the fore all at once.

With Duologue, Wilson and Nash make the combination of saxophone and drums seem as logical and complementary as anything. It's a treat to hear them work their magic.


Track Listing: Caravan; The Mooche; RCJG; Monk Medley Part 1 (Ask Me Now, Evidence); Row Twelve; Black Gold; Jitterbug Waltz; Freedom Jazz Dance; Monk Medley Part 2 (Bright Mississippi, Four In One); Happy House; Woody 'N' You.

Personnel: Steve Wilson: saxophone; Lewis Nash: drums.

Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: MCG Jazz | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Very Early" CD/LP/Track Review Very Early
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 23, 2016
Read "Life and Other Transient Storms" CD/LP/Track Review Life and Other Transient Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 26, 2016
Read "Buoyancy" CD/LP/Track Review Buoyancy
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 14, 2016
Read "Isn't Life Grand" CD/LP/Track Review Isn't Life Grand
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 29, 2016
Read "What's Wrong" CD/LP/Track Review What's Wrong
by John Sharpe
Published: December 2, 2016
Read "Leaving Everything Behind" CD/LP/Track Review Leaving Everything Behind
by Dave Wayne
Published: July 4, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!