The experience of this duo outing, More Essentials
, begins with the packaging, the cover art, a gorgeous photo of two jelly fish immersed in the softened hues of shallow submersion in the sea. The disc spins, an introductory bass solo by Daniel Schlaeppi
that leads into Miles Davis
' "Blue In Green," with pianist Marc Copeland
's liquid, anti-gravitational, chord-to-chord glide as lovely as anything he's ever laid down, immersed in turquoise, tethered by the (planetary) Neptune-ian pull of bassist Daniel Schlaeppi's big, powerful sound.
Copeland excels in the duo: his auspicious pairing with bassist Gary Peacock
(Pirouet Records, 2009) , and Speak To Me
(Pirouet Records, 2011) are standout examples of his artistry in the format. But there's something about More Essentials
that rises above even those excellent outings. Schlappe and Copland have worked together, a lot, as a duofour joint tours and one previous recording, Essentials
(Catwalk, 2012). The level of interaction, their "dialogic interplay," the comfort, familiarity and ease with which they speak together rises to the highest levels.
There are standardsand the non-original song selection is spot-on for this particular team: the previously mentioned "Blue In Green," "Estate," " All Of You," a darkly-beautiful, doomsday-ian version of "Yesterdays." then there's Joni Mitchell's approachable, cerebral "Rainy Night House," that Schlaeppi and Copland caress with pure affection.
And "Gloria's Step," from the pen of Scott LaFaro
: the late LaFaro was pianist Bill Evans
' bassistCopland if often compared to Evansin the historic trio that recorded the classic Riverside Records albums of 1961, Sunday At the Village Vanguard
and Waltz For Debby
. If Copeland is compared to Evans, Schlappe can be lined up with with LaFaro (and Charlie Haden and Eddie Gomez), with his ringing tone, his assertive interaction and his stream of surprises he brings to the music.
Add a couple of surprises. Copland isn't usually called a bop pianist, but his take on Horace Silver's classic "Song For My Father" bounces with a crisp panache; and Charlie Parker's "My Little Suede Shoes" dances with joy.
The punctuation in the sequencing of Schlaellpi's brief, improvised bass solos "Essentials," with one improved piano/bass interlude to the list, are a perfect touch tying the performance together on this extraordinary duo outing.