The tenor and vibes partnership of Ken Fowser and Behn Gillece has already established its credentials as an imaginative and innovative creator of cool-swinging straight-ahead jazz. Duotone, the duo's third album, reinforces those credentials with a fresh set of original tunes.
As with their previous Posi-Tone releasesFull View (2009) and Little Echo (2010)Duotone is a quintet recording. Each albums features a different rhythm section, and whether this is a deliberate strategy or not, it gives them variation in flavor, even though the sax and vibes frontline stays unchanged. It's also still the case that Gillece takes the lion's share of writing credits, composing eight tunes to Fowser's two.
Gillece is a skilful creator of tunes, harkening back to the original hard bop days and beyond, without sounding like mere imitations of that era's classics. Bassist David Wong and drummer Willie Jones III underpin "Back to Back" and "In The Twilight" with tough, forceful, rhythm, encouraging Fowser and Gillece into fast but swinging solos. "Low Ball" has a slinky, late night groove, with superb comping from pianist Donald Vega and another pair of warmly engaging solos from Fowser and Gillece, adding up to a truly classy tune.
Fowser might only get two writing credits, but he gets them for two top tunes. "Bongo" has a jaunty rhythm, with Gillece's vibe solo adding a Latin edge. "One for G" is also instantly appealing, Wong and Jones' brightly skipping rhythm ensuring a feel-good mood over which Fowser, reminiscent of Scott Hamilton, Gillece and Vega build short but attractive solos.
Overcooked; Spontaneity; Attachment; Back To Back; Come Around Again; In The Twilight; Low Ball; Bongo; Offset; One for G.
Ken Fowser: tenor saxophone; Behn Gillece: vibraphone; Donald Vega: piano; David Wong: bass; Willie Jones III: drums.
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