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)
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