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Ken Fowser & Behn Gillece: Little Echo

Dan Bilawsky By

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Tenor saxophone and vibraphone frontlines—while not as commonplace as two horn teams—have their place in history. Lionel Hampton and Stan Getz had a marvelous meeting in the studio and Milt Jackson recorded with Sonny Rollins, Coleman Hawkins and John Coltrane, on different occasions. Bobby Hutcherson added to this legacy, working with Dexter Gordon and maintaining a fruitful partnership with Harold Land, and now tenor saxophonist Ken Fowser and vibraphonist Behn Gillece are furthering this legacy.

Little Echo is the sophomore release from this pair and they use this opportunity to showcase their writing—with all nine songs co-credited to both men—as well as their playing. "Resolutions," wisely selected as the opener, might be the catchiest song on the album. "Ninety Five" and the title track both possess a similar, steady eighth note groove—provided by drummer Quincy Davis—that's underscored by repetitive bass lines from Ugonna Okegwo. This combination helps lock things in beneath the soloists, acting as a grounding force. Pianist Rick Germanson has a killer descending run during his solo on the latter tune, but "Ninety Five" is the far more gratifying performance on the whole.

"Sap" begins with some musical questions being asked—with appropriate pauses after these lines—and Germanson's questions seem to be the most ominous in nature. Once the solos start, everybody—save Okegwo—gets a chance to let loose and nobody wastes the opportunity. "The Dog Days" is a molasses-slow ballad that makes brilliant use of the less-is-more approach. Fowser's solo starts off with an aching delivery and Germanson sticks to impressionistic statements, with some bluesy licks thrown in to spice things up. While Gillece's soloing seems a bit aimless on this one, he more than makes up for it on "Vigilance." Okegwo's slick bass work sets the tone for the piece, but Fowser and Gillece steal the attention away from him with their seemingly effortless run through the tricky rhythmic line they created. Once they make their way down this path, the solos begin and Gillece sounds phenomenal when he and Fowser begin to tangle their lines around one another.

"You" has a buoyant, uplifting sound that's wholly unique to this album. While Fowser and Gillece let the music breath and fly, Davis holds it in place with some heavy-handed playing. Okegwo's reputation as one of the most supportive bassists around is upheld on this record and, just when it appears the spotlight eludes him, he finally gets a chance to step out and solo on the album closer, "Another View." Much of this music has a timeless quality about it and little echoes of the giants listed above come through on Little Echo.

Track Listing: Resolutions; Ninety Five; Sap; The Dog Days; Vigilance; Little Echo; One Step At A Time; You; Another View.

Personnel: Ken Fowser: tenor saxophone; Behn Gillece: vibraphone; Rick Germanson: piano; Ugonna Okegwo: bass; Quincy Davis: drums.

Title: Little Echo | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records


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