Nestled in the foothills of Boulder, Colorado, there is a rare and precious jazz gem: pianist Art Lande. Born in 1947, Lande has had a long and fruitful career, including membership in his Rubisa Patrol quartet, which included trumpeter Mark Isham and drummer Bill Douglass. He recorded for ECM from 1973 to 1987, with players such as saxophonist Jan Garbarek, bassist Gary Peacock and multi-instrumentalist Paul McCandless. Since settling in Boulder in 1987, Lande has been an essential force on the Front Range music scene, both as a player and an educator, and over the past few decades he has appeared on several dozen recordings with a wide variety of musicians.
Polar Opposites pairs Lande with one of his longtime collaborators, Dave Peterson, and starts off with three gorgeous compositions by the Seattle-based guitarist, each possessing a delicious, lilting melody that flows and sparkles like a waterfall. Both Lande and Peterson hit resonant notes of crystal clarity that are simultaneously sumptuous and buoyant. The duo is then joined on the tunes "Persimmon" and "Light of the Day" by two excellent Colorado-based musiciansbassist Bijoux Barbosa and drummer Matt Houston who fit in perfectly with Lande and Peterson's lush spaciousness, and add just the right amount of funk and drive.
Then the CD starts to move in unexpected directions. Lande's "Light of Day" finds Peterson busting out some serious reverb, not to mention sounds that resemble a conversation between aliens. "The Harmless Predicament of Prettice Dru" is another effervescent tune, but this time ending with Lande's mysterious whispering. The short "Entering the Prodome" is an electronic soundscape that's part dinosaur and part space invader. Then comes the album's tour de force"Oliver's Weird Dream"which blends all the elements of the previous tunes, but this time expanding the spoken word, alien language, and wayward guitar chords. It's rare to laugh out loud while listening to jazz, but it's impossible to resist Lande's cheerfully bizarre poetics. The disc wraps up with Lande's tender "Turning Away," a return to the virtues of the first three tunes.
Lande continues to amaze after all these years, creating music that bears his singular blend of top-notch craftsmanship and unabashed merrymaking. For those wishing to be reacquainted with this musical jewel, Polar Opposites is an excellent place to begin.
Yours Truly; Where Have You Gone?; A Tune for You; Persimmon; Light of the Day; Iguacu; The Harmless Predicament of Prettice Dru; Entering the Prodome; Oliver's Weird Dream; Turning Away.
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