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The Waiting Game is all about two top-flight jazz professionals uniting for a series of duets consisting of original compositions and a few standards along with arrangements of traditional songs. Multi-reedman Marty Ehrlich is an important figure in modern jazz, as few will argue that notion. Along with the skillful and ever-resourceful pianist Mike Nock (who is also the artistic director for NAXOS jazz), the duo cover a variety of themes and ideas yet for the most part, The Waiting Game is a light-hearted, spirited and satisfyingly entertaining engagement. Here, Ehrlich who is noted for his frequent forays into improvised music, jazz-chamber works and large ensemble projects pursues more of a – mainstream - approach on this project. Essentially, Ehrlich and Nock seem comfortable as a duo, which becomes apparent from the onset of the opening and title track, “The Waiting Game”. On this piece, Ehrlich’s ambient, sweet-toned phrasing on soprano sax firms down the somber lines and lamentable melodies. Throughout, Ehrlich and Nock emit a sense of space or airiness while affording themselves many opportunities for flexibility and growth. They perform a lovely version of Dave Brubeck’s cheery composition titled, “The Duke” while keeping in line with the bouncy theme and appealing melody, Ehrlich displays his – expressive - mastery of the clarinet via clear linear lines, nuance, shade and swing. On the other hand, Nock contrasts Ehrlich well, as an accompanist and shrewd soloist who also possesses a distinctive style featuring odd-metered voicings along with a seemingly strong kinship to the blues and traditional swing. Nock also displays his expertise as a stride pianist on James P. Johnson’s peppery, “Snowy Morning Blues”.
Simply put, The Waiting Game is well balanced, congenial and upright! No frills or underlying agendas here! Just sit back and enjoy the music! * * * ½
Marty Ehrlich; Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Alto Sax & Soprano Sax: Mike Nock; Piano