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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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TOMMY FLANAGAN &
JAKI BYARD

The Magic of 2

Resonance HCD 2013

 

 

1. Introduction by Todd Barkan
2. Scrapple from the Apple
3. Just One of Those Things
4. Satin Doll
5. Something to Live For
6. Send One Your Love
7. Our Delight
8. All day Long
9. Sunday
10. Chelsea Bridge
11. Land of Make Believe
12. The Theme

Tommy Flanagan - Piano (tracks 2-5, 7, 8, 10, 12)
Jaki Byard - Piano (tracks 2-4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12)

 

Tommy Flanagan and Jaki Byard may seem an odd pairing, as Flanagan is primarily known for his work with mainstream artists (especially as accompanist for Ella Fitzgerald), while Byard has partnered more way-out musicians such as Charles Mingus and Eric Dolphy. Yet Tommy had an interest in bebop, and both players were eclectic - performing in a wide range of situations.

When I was a child, a highlight of seaside holidays was attending a summer show, where the artists were usually accompanied by piano duettists. This showed how the two instruments could work well together if they were thoroughly rehearsed. However, in the case of this album, recorded in 1982 at Keystone Korner in San Francisco, the pianists are improvising without any prior rehearsal, and the result is sometimes cluttered.

Although the sleeve-note tells us which musician is soloing at which time, they often seem to collide with one another in Scrapple from the Apple and Just One of Those Things. In fast numbers like this, piano duets seldom work unless one pianist supplies simple accompaniment while the other pianist plays his solo. Nevertheless, the end of Just One of Those Things is intriguing because the duettists humorously leave gaps which provide an element of mystery as to how the tune will actually end.

Satin Doll sounds more integrated, because it is a slower tune which leaves space between the notes. Tracks 5 and 6 are solos, respectively by Flanagan and Byard. This feels like a breath of fresh air, although Jaki Byard squeezes too many notes into Send One Your Love, when Stevie Wonder's lovely song could stand on its own merits. Byard even moves into stride piano at one point, which seems inappropriate for this tune.

The pianists return to solos in tracks 8 to 11, with Flanagan and Byard taking two tunes apiece. For all his solos, Flanagan tastefully chooses tunes by Billy Strayhorn. Byard manages to make Land of Make Believe sound muddled, with very busy pianistics. The two men get together again for a final battle in Miles Davis's The Theme, where they swap eights in friendly togetherness. The track ends with some jocular madness.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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