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Soren Moller / Dick Oatts: The Clouds Above

C. Michael Bailey By

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The Clouds Above is the continuation of a duet project that pianist Soren Moller and saxophonist Dick Oatts began with Storytelling (Audial, 2005). Like that release, The Clouds Above brags all originals save for one classical adaptation, in this case Sergei Prokofiev's Balcony Scene from his 1935 ballet, Romeo and Juliet, here captured lyrically by Moller's most restrained pianism. Oatts plays alto on the piece, weaving in and out of the scaffolding erected by Moller. The effect is one of nervous excitement, sharply presented.

Oatts moves to soprano for "Reflections," his serpentine lines melding with Moller's rhythmic attack. On "Wide Open Spaces," the pair dons an almost pastoral tone that is both reflective and aloof. Moller solos angularly and with a quiet intensity, while Oatts' cold silk tone slides over the piano like dry snow, blown by Moller's gently propulsive wind. This is intimate, interior music, creative thought manifest.

The Clouds Above is kin to Bill Anschell and Brent Jensen's We Couldn't Agree More (Origin, 2009). These duets tend to be edgier and more modern sounding than Art Pepper's Tete-a-Tete (Galaxy, 1982) and Going Home (Galaxy, 1982), or Frank Morgan's Double Image (Contemporary, 1986), both with George Cables. Moller and Oatts opt for a more originals-oriented, cerebral approach in their duets. The result is a thoughtful recording that is often un-nerving, but always rewarding.


Track Listing: Prokofiev's Balcony Scene; Reflections; The Clouds Above; Wide Open Spaces; Jund Song; Butterfly.

Personnel: Soren Moller: piano; Dick Oatts: saxophones, flute.

Title: The Clouds Above | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Audial Records

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