DUETS!!! Frank Carlberg & Noah Preminger: Whispers and Cries, Mike Jones & Penn Jillette: The Show Before the Show, Mark Egan & Arjun Bruggeman: Dreaming Spirits

The most intimate of jazz get togethers, the duet, is in rich display on these three albums, showing the joys of musical conversations in a variety of genres.

Pianist Frank Carlberg teams with tenor saxist Noah  Preminger to stretch out over some standards and traditional material. The songs all range between 5 and 8 minutes, so the pace is relaxed and explorative. Preminger’s tone is the star here, gasping as he pleads over the spacious piano on “Someone to Watch Over Me” and hovering like a fog during “Aura Lee.” You can hear the tenorists spittle drip through the horn on a sighing “Embraceable You” and he cleverly puffs like Thomas the Toy Engine on  “Take the A Train.” Carlberg is laconic and gentle, delivering a rice pilaf support on “These Foolish Things” and delivering wanderlust to “The Meaning of the Blues.” Starry Starry Nights.

Pianist Mike Jones and bassist Penn Jillete show how to work a crowd, as they are recorded at the Penn & Teller Theater on this album. The two gents love the strong pulse of swing, as they dig deep into pieces such as “Broadway” and exude rich uptown class during “Tangerine” and “Have You Met Miss  Jones?”. A pair of samba tunes has the team bounce with delight on “Manha de Carnaval” and “Corcovado,” with Jones ending the evening with a double-fisted 8 to the bar so of “Exactly Like You.” Style and substance.

Yes, the album by legendary bassist Mark Egan and percussionist Arjun Bruggeman is titled as a duet, but guitarist Shane Theriot is on many of the tracks, making this album have a vintage  Pat Metheny feel to it. Egan walks the fine line between lyrical bass chops and atmospheric long tones like a trapeze master as Brugggeman uses tablas, drums and shakers to take you on trips  that mix Africa with Brazil (“Mombossa”) or take you to South Asia on “C Drone Expansion.” Theriot’s guitars are sublime draperies, either forming acoustic dew droplets or modern fusion frames, adding textures on “Voices” and “Morning Light.” This is a subtle and unassuming gem, mixing technique and impressions.




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