There is something about duo albums. They’re not always common in the jazz world. Now don’t get us wrong, we know they are out there and that there are very important albums in that catalogue. However, they’re not as common. Why is that? We think it might be because of the difficulty for making it sound right.
We’re used to the concept of a jazz rhythm section consisting of a chordal instrument, an instrument giving us the bass line, and a collection of drums giving us that driving force to move the music along. Our ears are generally trained for that sound.
But that is not always needed….if the duo is good. And this is a darn good duo. Bari Sax and and piano. Two great instruments, two great gentlemen, and one great album. Chip Stephens and Glenn Wilson have known each other for a while. They have played in various ensembles and duo settings with each other for a while. WHILE is the key word here. Their musical closeness is what makes this album so special. Chip and Glenn are able to know what each other are going to do before they even do it. That’s what makes a special duo. Indianapolis had that for a very long time with Claude Sifferlin and Frank Glover. Chip and Glenn are like that as well
Chip Stephens lays down a groove on the piano that is not found quite often. He understands the role and then pushes those boundaries continuously. It’s fun.
Let’s do a case study: Round Midnight. This is a classic. Everyone knows it and everyone plays it. Chip and Glenn know and they play it. However, they are pushing those boundaries at all times. The harmonic flow seems to follow along as one would expect. And then around the 2:50 mark, things begin to slowly, very slowly, unravel not into a deconstruction or the like, but unravel in the sense of thinking “what if I were to take this harmonic progression and just *nudge* it a little over here. What would happen then. And then Chip takes the stage with a hauntingly beautiful solo that continuously brings back a bell-tone to make you think of the old grandfather clock from your grandparents house tolling the announcement of midnight. It’s a beautiful touch and an amazing solo.
This is the type of thing you get from this album. Standards (and two originals) not deconstructing the tunes, but nudging them slightly to the left to see what happens to them. It’s beautiful.
Enjoy our great show highlighting some of these tunes, as well as an interview with Chip and Glenn about there time together and the making of this strong duo album….and album that should move into the pantheon of duo albums.