Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Roy Nathanson, Nearness and You, Roy Nathanson & Friends at the Stone

Anything happening at NYC's venue The Stone gains in stature somehow just by association. Like the Village Vanguard certainly did and arguably still does, the Stone exemplifies the New York contemporary jazz scene, in this case specifically the "downtown" vibe in avant jazz, just as New York as a whole typifies by example improvised music in the US today.

So when we get an album of Roy Nathanson and Friends doing duets at the Stone, Nearness and You (CleanFeed 365), we give it our undivided attention, or I do anyway.

The duets pivot around several notable versions of the standard "The Nearness of You": by Arturo O'Farrill on piano with Roy on alto; by Curtis Fowlkes on trombone, then on vocal with Roy on alto and soprano, then on piano; by Anthony Coleman on piano and Roy on alto; with Myra Melford on piano and Roy on alto and vocal.

Each version is different, freely conceived, and in between we get some inspired duetting of Roy on alto, soprano and baritone with a wide variety of master improvisors, Marc Ribot on guitar, Curtis again with the addition of trombonist Lucy Hollier, and reprises by the other artists already mentioned.

It's a very creative outing, each improviser articulating his or her fingerprint statement and bringing forth a wide gamut of responses from Roy.

I am reminded favorably of the old Lee Konitz duet album on Milestone years ago. Like on that one everybody has something to say and the path from artistic duality to artistic duality fascinates by the definitive variety engendered and the spectrum and impact of them taken singly and all together.

This is one of those landmark creative duet dates. The music plays itself, so all you have to do is relax and listen. Pretty outstanding, this!

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