Duo Art



Various  ‘Duo Art: Creating Magic’  (ACT)  –  10th February 2014

From the ongoing counterbalanced ‘duo art’ series that accentuates modern jazz and classical music down to its purest form, the European Jazz label ACT pulls together another erudite survey of maestros from across the continent to produce this succinct Creating Magic compilation. Embodied in Phillip Taafe’s simple, harmonious minimal curved artwork on the cover, this double album blends the talent on offer with an attentive verve.

Label boss Siggi Loch has persuaded and invited a envious litany of the greats and emerging talents from the last 50-odd-years to record for the series. More a showcase with examples from across that same collection, there is a varied spread of instrumentation and composition; all framed in the synonymous house style. Those familiar to the Monolith will already recognise contributions from the pairings of Gwilym Simcock & Yuri Goloubev (‘Pastoral’ from their Reverie At Schloss Elmau LP), Phillip Catherine & Martin Wind (‘Fried Bananas’ from their New Folks LP) and George Mraz & Emil Viklicky (‘Up On A Fir Tree’ from their Together Again LP) – all reviewed this year in previous posts. However, pianist wiz kid and label stalwart – also featured with his trio on this blog – Michael Wollny contributes on three tracks, including the gentle, plaintive grand piano duet ‘Tears For Esbjörn Svensson’, with Iiro Rantala, on their homage to the late and great Swedish pianist (who died in 2008).

Adding to the ‘poignant’ tributes, the album ends with the last recording that tenor saxophone, electric piano and organ titan Eddie Harris made before his death in 1996: the baritone romantic swan song to his wife, ‘You Stole My Heart’ (recorded with Gil Goldstein), was the last session he ever made before he was taken ill on his return to L.A.

The breadth is sonorous and wide, with the spectrum fluctuating between the more contemporary soulful ballads of Viktoria Tolstoy & Jacob Karizon on ‘Red Rain’, to the atavistic flamenco guitar elegiac, ‘Un Amor Real’, by Gerardo Nuñez & Renaud García-Fons and muzzled Spanish mysticism of Miles Davis with the ambient rich soundscape ‘Lacrima Christi’ by Nguyên Lê & Paolo Fresu.


More serene and methodical than explosive, the compilation takes time to reveal its inner jazz soul. ACT remain sedately aloof, each release a silent declaration, but always offering something of significance.


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