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Galician guitarist Marcos Pin is no stranger to ambitious projects. His Barbanza (Free Code Jazz Records, 2012) was a cinematic, expansive large ensemble work that fused modal jazz orchestration with his native musical heritage. His Duology is much more intimate yet no less challenging an undertaking. It will consist of ten separate sessions, each a duet with a like-minded colleague. The first of these is with pianist Yago Vazquez who perfectly complements Pin on a series of five standards the interpretation of which creates dramatic tension with contrasting and interdependent motifs.
A bright up-tempo retelling of "All The Things You Are" is peppered with hints of melancholy. Vàzquez's intelligent and thrilling improvisation is angular and heavily classically influenced. Pin's response is laced with bluesy hints and evolves with a baroque structure. The result is a delightfully surreal yet completely accessible spontaneously created piece.
A similar mélange of genres characterizes "You Don't Know What Love Is." As the artists tastefully deconstruct the well-known tune they bring in hefty doses of the blues and chamber music all done with a jazzy flair. Pin and Vàzquez trade barbs, mirror each other and carry on a stimulating dialogue that concludes on a romantically wistful note.
On trumpeter Miles Davis' "Donna Lee" Pin's effervescent guitar is supported by Vàzquez's bright, ringing tones while his cascading solo flows over Pin's melodic and thick chords. The charming camaraderie between the two men leads to an exciting give and take as they feed off each other's ideas with gypsy-esque exuberance and boppish virtuosity.
The more atmospheric "Blue Monk" darkly glimmers as Pin's slow, simmering strings unfold over Vàzquez's percussive refrains. The pianist's own extemporization has elements of the Harlem stride style as Pin's resonant dense strums echo around it.
The album closes with "Dewey Square," as agile and sophisticated lines from each instrumentalist weave an intriguing and whimsical sonic tapestry that ends in a crepuscular mood.
This elegant and captivating disc is an inventive and fresh take on the art of the duo. If Pin is able to maintain this momentum through out the remaining nine albums then there is a lot to which to look forward.
Track Listing: Donna Lee; Blue Monk; All The Things You Are; You Don't Know What Love Is; Dewey Square.