Duos in a Piano/Saxophone format are fastidious at best. In jazz history there are numerous examples for this art of sound essence and narration. Only the best and selfconfident musicians will venture into this terrain. Dialogues between piano and saxophone are often masterpieces in jazz. I often think back on the works of Duke Ellington, who in his later life realized duo works with his favourite saxophonists Johnny Hodges and Paul Gonsalves. These takes are still and at all time relevant and full of expression. Furthermore, releases from saxophonist Stan Getz with various pianists and Mal Waldron at the keys in equal artistic exchange with Steve Lacy or Jim Pepper I am always listening to with pleasure. The list of wonderful duo releases I can nonstop continue.
Two master musicians of our time got together five years ago in 2011 and they gave some concerts in Europe, that really celebrated the fine art of playing in a duo. Brad Mehldau and Joshua Redman walked wide and ramified paths in music and they are today undisputed greats in their spheres. They create independent from each other their own musical universe, which radiates into our present time and partly into the future. Simultaneously, they are working together or independently on the musical heritage and works of jazz icons, as they dismantle this material to put the pieces again together in a fresh and new way. These live recordings from concert halls in Spain, Germany, Switzerland and Norway prove this operating method in an impressive manner. Also you will find on „Nearness“ (in the vinyl version a double album) three of their own compositions, two from Mehldau and one from Redman, which illustrate the preferences of concentrated duo interplay. Redman's „Mehlsancholy Mode“ oscillates sensuous and joyful elegant piano and saxophone lines back and fourth, masterly in form and content. At no point on this album is there any kind of surpassing between the two muscians. Brad Mehldau and Joshua Redman do respect themselves and each other, and of course their audience. This momentum and the consonated „understatement“ of both musicians makes „Nearness“ an excellent experience to listen to.
JOSHUA REDMAN & BRAD MEHLDAU
Nonesuch Records / Warner Music 555845-1 / Release-Date: September-9, 2016
Author: Jan Fritz