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Trombone Duos: Jiggs Whigham/Wolfgang Kohler & Roswell Rudd/Mark Dresser

Ken Dryden By

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The trombone has entered a new era where it no longer has to be featured exclusively in a big band or a small group with a complete rhythm section. Virtuoso trombonists are perfectly happy with a single musical partner, as heard on these two outstanding, but very contrasting CDs.

Jiggs Whigham & Wolfgang Köhler
Two Too

Most jazz fans are likely to have heard Jiggs Whigham in a small group or large ensemble, so listening to him in a duo setting proves to be an ear-opening experience. A long time resident of Europe (he maintains homes in Berlin, Bonn and also in New England), the veteran trombonist met pianist Wolfgang Köhler in Germany. Their session is mostly an intimate affair, with a heavy dose of familiar standards and a pair of time-tested jazz compositions. The ballad portion of the program emphasizes lyricism, with Whigham in the lead and sympathetic accompaniment by Köhler. Both musicians show off their chops in a driving bop arrangement of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "I Have Dreamed (From The King and I). Whigham's mellow interpretation of the late JJ Johnson's "Lament is a masterpiece, while Köhler shows off his stride piano technique with a playful solo rendition of Bix Beiderbecke's "In a Mist . Mainstream jazz fans will delight in this duo's explorations of old favorites.

Roswell Rudd & Mark Dresser
Air Walkers
Clean Feed

Roswell Rudd's resumé is a long and storied one, including recordings with Steve Lacy, John Tchicai and Archie Shepp, along with over a dozen discs of his own. But this pioneer of trombone in avant-garde and free jazz is especially at home in this duo meeting with bassist Mark Dresser, who has a classical background, but left the symphony to work extensively as a leader and sideman on numerous avant-garde jazz dates. The songs are originals and improvisations, except for one miscredited standard, a loping, relatively straight ahead interpretation of Jimmy McHugh's "Don't Blame Me . The duo's musical journey takes them through a variety of influences from around the world, from the catchy Caribbean flavor of the boisterous, offbeat "Calypso Lite to the wild "Pregnant Pauses that has a bit of an Oriental air in spots and the humorous "Burst with Rudd's laugh-like mute work. But the obvious highlights are the two takes of the title track, in which both Rudd and Dresser are at their most expressive. Even those who normally shy away from experimental music will find these compelling performances to be very accessible.

Tracks and Personnel

Two Too

Tracks: We'll Be Together Again; The Days of Wine and Roses; Lulu's Back in Town; Lament; It Had To Be You; In a Mist; I Have Dreamed; I Concentrate on You; Come Rain or Come Shine.

Personnel: Jiggs Whigham: trombone; Wolfgang Köhler: piano.

Air Walkers

Tracks: Calypso Lite; Airwalkers (Take Two); Pregnant Pauses; Roz MD; Duality; Burst; Don't Blame Me; Lovers Waltz; Air Walkers (Take One).

Personnel: Roswell Rudd: trombone; Mark Dresser: bass.


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