Van Gogh By Numbers; One Step Closer

Ken Dryden By

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The vibraphone is in good hands with two veterans and a rising player featured on a pair of small group sessions.

Joe Locke & Christos Rafalides
Van Gogh By Numbers
Wire Walker Records

The pairing of vibes and marimba is not unprecedented, but this meeting between vibraphonist Joe Locke and marimba player Christos Rafalides features just the two instruments, and most of the session made up of their fascinating originals. Locke describes his immediately infectious "Van Gogh By Numbers as "creating art by using a formula, though any seasoned listener will vouch for the success of his experiment. "Sword of Whispers is a quiet, lyrical ballad with a Latin rhythm. His "Suite di Morteo was initially written for his quartet—the first movement features Locke unaccompanied, playing a sparse line that suggests drifting off to sleep, while Rafalides joins him for the turbulent "Now in Darkness I Dream, and then they switch instruments for "Waking Now, I Wonder.

Rafalides' "Sorayia is a Latin miniature that suggests the influence of Baroque music; the musicians switch instruments again for Rafalides' tense "Pandora's Dance. Two familiar works are beautifully revoiced: "Love is a Many Splendored Thing is recast as a brilliant clave in 9/4, taking it far from its typical easy listening setting, while their impressive Latin interpretation of the landmark modal composition "Blue in Green was nailed in one take.

Mark Sherman
One Step Closer
Consolidated Artist Productions

Another accomplished vibraphonist and writer, Mark Sherman leads a strong quintet with pianist Allen Farnham, trumpeter/flugelhornist Joe Magnerelli, bassist Dean Johnson and drummer Tim Horner. Sherman and Farnham contributed the originals on One Step Closer, plus arrangements for a pair of standards. The leader's upbeat twelve-bar blues "Modal Blues provides a brisk introduction, with guest Joe Lovano adding a burning tenor sax solo. Farnham's shimmering ballad "Hope avoids predictable paths, initially played as a duet with Sherman, before Johnson and Horner make a late entrance. The pianist's "Genkitively is a playful post bop calypso. Sherman penned "Long Trip Home as a proposed short film soundtrack, hinting at a ballad format in its introduction before switching over to marimba and shifting gears to a brisk, infectious Latin arrangement. Sherman's exquisite, spacious arrangement of "My One and Only Love is yet another highlight of this outstanding session.

Tracks and Personnel

Van Gogh By Numbers

Tracks: Van Gogh By Numbers; Sorayia; Love is a Many Splendored Thing; Sword of Whispers; Pandora's Dance; Suite di Morfeo: Now I lllla Me Down, Now in Darkness I Dream, Waking Now I Wonder; Danzon En Primavera; Blue in Green.

Personnel: Joe Locke: vibes, marimba; Christos Rafalides: marimba, vibes.

One Step Closer

Tracks: Modal Blues; Little Lullaby; Moon River; Spiritual Exercise; Hope; Genkitively; My Princess; My One and Only Love; Ella Bella; Long Trip Home.

Personnel: Mark Sherman: vibraphone, marimba; Joe Lovano: tenor sax; Joe Magnerelli: trumpet, flugelhorn; Allen Farnham: piano; Dean Johnson: bass; Tim Horner: drums.


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