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Russ Lossing / John Hebert: Line Up

Budd Kopman By

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Pianist Russ Lossing and bassist John Hebert have known each other a long time and have played together on a number of projects, including Lossing's own Phrase 6 (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2005), and, most recently, on the phenomenal "quasi-debut" of Michael Adkins, Rotator (HatOLOGY, 2008).

After talking for a long time about making a duo recording, the two players finally did it, and the exceptional Line Up, is the result. As a player, Hebert's wide-ranging musical instincts allow him to literally adapt to the circumstances at hand, from Gebhard Ullman's brutally intense New Basement Research (Soul Note, 2007) to the ethereal music of Frank Kimbrough and Paul Motian at the Jazz Standard.

In comparison, Lossing is always himself, and, when playing on other recordings like Loren Stillman's How Sweet It Is (Nagel Heyer, 2003) he is highly valued for bringing intensity and finely honed rhythmic and harmonic sensibilities.

Together, as a team, they mesh and play as one, creating music that is complete, balanced, dramatic and highly emotional. While Lossing's piano is naturally in the foreground, Hebert's bass, even when accompanying and providing harmonic and rhythmic support, feels like a contrapuntal voice. Indeed, Lossing seems to feel so secure in his explorations because Hebert is right there with him, giving and responding, supporting and extending.

Of the fourteen tracks, eight are spontaneous improvisations and true dialogues, filled with clear conversations and arguments. Who is leading and who is following is unclear many times, much to Hebert's credit. Lossing has lightning reflexes and can sense a motivic phrase or rhythm stated by Hebert, and then run with it. Upon hearing this, Hebert, who will not give up the spotlight, begins to react to Lossing's comments. The feedback loop of real-time improvisation is thus formed and marvelous things happen.

The other six tracks are compositions, three by Hebert ("Blind Pig," "For A. H." and "Whirlygig"), the title tune by Lossing, a somewhat well-known standard, "All Alone " by Irving Berlin and Duke Ellington's composition, "Pitter Panther Putter" that was originally played by Ellington and bassist Jimmy Blanton.

These tracks are longer, primarily due to the clearly audible structure inherent in each composition. However, when all the tracks are taken together, a case is made that structure as codified intent can occur either in the moment of putting pen to paper or the analogous moment of playing in real time—it is really a matter of degree.

Line Up presents two masters who know and balance each other so completely that the spontaneous sounds almost composed and composed very spontaneous. This is a marvelous recording filled with music that is challenging yet accessible.

Visit Russ Lossing and John Hebert on the web.

Track Listing: Monotype; Fais Do-Do; Blind Pig; Type A; Hitchcock; Line Up; All Alone; Hamburg; Stick The Landing; For A.H.; Type O; Cross Circuits; Whirlygig; Pitter Panther Patter.

Personnel: Russ Lossing: piano; John Hebert: double-bass.

Title: Line Up | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Hatology

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