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Guitar duos are an honorable and deep jazz tradition that reaches back to the music's beginnings. Two Guys From South Dakota is a superior, bop-based addition to that lineage, and it fits right in. Arnold and Miller are in fact from South Dakota, and they keep things swinging throughout. They have stylistic roots in Jim Hall, and to a lesser extent, Pat Metheny, although neither of them are mere imitators. They do favor Hall's lyrical, relaxed swing, however.
The approach here consistently is one of soloing with chordal comping, rather than contrapuntal improvising. Each guitarist comps deftly for the other, increasing the swing by emphatic comps or walking a single-note bass line. The music generates the most momentum when one of the guitarists is walking, as on "All The Things You Are," for example. "Giant Steps," by contrast, becomes a relaxed bossa nova. "Invitation" is the most exciting track, with both Arnold and Miller playing fiery solos that explore the outer edges of the chord changes.
Two Guys From South Dakota is straight-ahead, uncluttered, and unpretentious; warm, inventive, and above all, solidly swinging.
Track Listing: Billie's Bounce, All The Things You Are, Giant Steps, Time Remembered, Invitation, Alone Together.
Personnel: Bruce Arnold, guitar; Mike Miller, guitar.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.