Calm, contemplative, a little severe perhaps, but beautifully conceived and executed – you couldn’t mistake this for anything other than contemporary European jazz. The prospect of 15 duets for double bass (Lars Danielsson) and trumpet (Paolo Fresu) may not immediately grab you, and you probably have to be in the right mood, but there’s a gently seductive power to this music. It derives partly from the resonant ambience of the recording, making it sound as though they’re playing in a church. Normally, this would be the kiss of death for jazz, but here the unhurried notes of the two instruments simply melt together.
There’s plenty of tonal variety nevertheless, with Danielsson sometimes changing to cello and Fresu to flugelhorn, as well as occasionally using a harmon mute (recalling Miles Davis at his most winsome). The individual tracks are quite short, and each has a discernible shape, an arc of shared melody. The duet is a tricky form for improvising musicians because, as Danielsson points out in the brief notes: “You can’t hide behind other instruments.” One false move and you’re lost. Happily, there are none in this absorbing set.Continue reading...
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