No matter the many miles and quantum number of life's triumphs and travails that have visited them since their last encounter, Kenny Barron and Dave Holland walk into a studio and instantly pick up whence they last met.
But these two old cronies are not just killing time shooting the proverbial you-know-what. They have set out to interpret and shape time on their own terms, and not vice versa, two intrinsic elements of creation that still make their consequential The Art of Conversation (Impulse, 2014) so often re-listened to and thoroughly enjoyed.
Now we have Without Deception, one of the truest album titles ever, with the kinetically effusive Jonathan Blake sitting in behind the skins, making Without Deception a vital amalgam of style and understanding. A virtual lesson we all need to learn is how three people can communicate without stepping on, cursing out, insulting, agitating, or p-ssing off either of the others at the table.
Barron's sly and breezy bossa nova "Porto Alegre" sets the gears in emphatic motion and the effervescence never lets up. Blake, though decades younger than both his trio mates, brings to the mix the same deep respect for a song's balanced structure and the elasticity it allows before becoming something else altogether. Thus the warm investigations of Mulgrew Miller's "Second Thoughts" and Duke Ellington's impassioned "Warm Valley."
Barron, compositionally, has the most to say as he is credited with four of the ten tunes, including the danceable title track, a swinging, old-school hopper that one can just imagine lit up the faces of all three as they played it, especially Holland who is particularly nimble and visceral on this and the string bending "Speed Trap" and his tricky "Pass It On." Blake gets his moment here also, a controlled flurry of snaps and rolls which would have made Philly Joe Jones more than proud. Without Deception is another triumph of camaraderie and the collective spirit. Also note that the vinyl version includes two bonus tracks, Blake's "Can Tomorrow Be Brighter" and Kenny Wheeler's "Mabel."
Porto Alegre; Second Thoughts; Without Deception; Until Then; Speed Trap; Secret Places; Pass It On; Warm Valley; I Remember When; Worry Later; Can Tomorrow Be Brighter (Vinyl only); Mabel (Vinyl Only).
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