Before his passing in late 1998 Glenn Spearman experienced a final flurry of recording activity. This duet session with Duval was one of his last documents. Though he was suffering from the debilitating effects of the illness that would soon take his life his work here is still completely engrossing and illuminating. Duval, who’s own talents have been frequently captured within the warming walls of CIMP’s Spirit Room, seems to sense that he’s in the company of a waning maestro. On the opening “Step Up” he steps back to give Spearman full and supportive space, sublimating his own redoubtable technique to the greater good. Spearman seizes on the room afforded by his partner and concocts a breadth of lyrical phrasings that gush from his horn in soothing succession. “Series Series” picks up were its predecessor left off as the pair initially explores euphonic sounds but switches streams midway into more turbulent declamations. The remainder of the program follows a similarly beguiling pattern moving between languid lyricism and more vigorous melodic abstractions.
There are points were Spearman seems to lag a little in his inventions and rely on slow, raspy tones in order to perhaps catch a breath. But rather than being a reflection of any deficiency these moments, which feature the brawny tenor in a reposeful guise, are often just as stunningly conceived as the more animated episodes. One of the most stimulating things about the set is the measured and relaxed way in which the two players converse. Nothing is hurried or left out for the sake of efficiency and it’s a valuable opportunity to hear two passionate minds in the midst of sensitive creation. “Legato” and “Sitting In” are arguably the best examples of the pair’s harmonic solidarity where the oaken sonorities of Duval’s bow match Spearman’s dusky tone perfectly. Likewise “Sass Bolo” and “Senortolo,” which are solo features for their respective instruments, offer an interesting respite from the dialogue as well as unadorned glimpses into each player’s own individual creative processes. Those listeners familiar with Spearman who approach this recording expecting his more ebulliently ecstatic side will probably be surprised by the temperance inherent in much of his work here. Some of the music may seem more sedate on the surface, but none of it is any less joyous or life-affirming in execution. The difference makes this disc an important addition to the body of work that stands as lasting testament to Spearman’ everlasting imprint on improvised music.
Tracks:Step Up/ Series Series/ Augh Oh/ Legato/ Sass Bolo/ Zantackin Down/ Call Separation/ Sitting In/ Senortolo- Back By the Bay.