Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock pulled it off, yet recordings of jazz-centric piano duets are generally few and far between. And while Boston, MA based pianists Marc Rossi and Ben Schwendener may not represent household names, this effort recorded live at a concert hall in Cambridge, MA hits the mark in a variety of ways. With this release, the pianists’ improvisations were either individually planned or assembled as a unit. They also incorporate theorist/composer George Russell’s groundbreaking, Lydian Chromatic concepts into the mix. Essentially, the artists’ avoid collisions and awkward moments by design, or so it seems. On “Dancing with Laws,” they integrate a touch of contemporary classical to complement avant-garde inclinations and mainstream fare. However, part of the beauty resides within their shifting movements and quaint lyricism via an overall gait that stirs notions of a gently flowing mountain stream. The duo delves into boogie-woogie amid variable rhythmic structures, free jazz, and airy swing grooves on the multifaceted piece titled “A&P Swing.” Here and throughout, Rossi and Schwendener concoct subtle melodies in concert with alternating statements while utilizing Russell’s now infamous harmonic language as a core framework. The musicians delve into contrapuntal maneuvers on “Dancing with Laws II,” while also venturing into minimalist territory. Regardless, this is a very special endeavor, marked by the contrasting tonalities of their grand pianos and mutual comprehension of what needed to be accomplished. A beautiful affair it is! (A top pick for 2002)
I was first exposed to jazz by my father, who was a rabid fan when he was younger, in the early to mid 1950's. We lived in NYC and he was a regular at places like the Village Vanguard and Birdland. One of his favorite stories involved meeting Charlie Parker and Miles on 52nd St
I was first exposed to jazz by my father, who was a rabid fan when he was younger, in the early to mid 1950's. We lived in NYC and he was a regular at places like the Village Vanguard and Birdland. One of his favorite stories involved meeting Charlie Parker and Miles on 52nd St. Needless to say, Jazz and Blues were always on the stereo in our home. I was steeped in these exciting sounds, and they make up some of my earliest memories.