Tuesday, August 18, 2020
For those who require a good bit of substance in their music, there is Two Hours Early, Ten Minutes Late: The Duo Music of Ken Aldcroft (Accretions ALP071), featuring the tenor saxophone of Jason Robinson and the electric guitar of Eric Hofbauer. Aldcroft and Robinson had planned on doing this music together, but sadly Aldcroft was felled by a fatal heart attack in 2016, and so subsequently the project saw a continuation via Robinson and Hofbauer--which is realized beautifully in the present recording.
There are 12 segments centered around Ken Aldcroft compositions played through and improvised upon by the duo. Some have a kind of New Music totality about them at times, whether contrapuntal, through composed, or otherwise finely crafted and inspired. Others have a more definite jazz swinging implied. Clearly all have plenty of room for improvising and Jason and Eric rise and meet the challenge of putting their personal stamp on their parts in ways memorable and well done.
There is a rhythm-chord guitar and lead line tenor division of labor implied in some of this and it is opened out in innovative ways. The guitar may also adopt an ostinato line for the tenor to soar over too, not surprisingly. But then the tenor returns the favor at times as well.
"Two Hours Early" is a fascinating counterpoint that evokes a broadness realized in improvisations that ring out and evoke. The duo gives us an opening version and another to close. In the process they show what high art sort of things the compositional and improvisational nexus can produce in the hands of the creators involved.
There is space along the way for solo moments of brilliance from both, and double solos, too. A beautiful thing is the way it ever straddles from the compositional to the improvisational without settling in for the most part to head-solo-head formations. In the process we are reminded just how soulfully proficient and resourceful both players are and how they get on famously together as a duo. There is almost nothing that sounds tentative or preparatory. It is all happily significant and artful.
If on the way we are sometimes reminded a little compositionally of Anthony Braxton, Steve Lacy and Monk-like arabesques, it is only mostly as precursors than as something imitated. It is a program that sounds wonderful the more you listen. It marks off Aldcroft, Robinson and Hofbauer as innovators, artists of the highest caliber. Most highly recommended.