Tim Daiy - drums
Ken Vandermark - Bb and bass clarinet, tenor sax
Tim Daisy and Ken Vandermark has played together a countless number of gigs in a numerous (but definitely easier to count) Vandermark's project, starting with the duo, through The Vandermark 5 up to the large ensembles like Resonance. "The Conversation" is their third duo release after the self-released "August Music" (2007) and the double lp on Laurence Family "Light on the Wall" (2010).
Not only do the musicians know well each other but the faithfull listener know them quite well too. This album holds no surprises. Break no barriers. And it doesn't need to. The playing is so honest, refreshingly joyfull, dynamic and energetic. "Pasfoto" starts with a soulfull bass clarinet, "4 North" brings the gritty and funky tenor saxophone to the table. "Impasto" with Vandermark on clarinet leans more onto european chamber music and "Anthology Moves" moves through minimalistic sections (tongue technique, metallic tin sounds) and extrovertic moments of heavily distorted saxophone cries. "Fifty Cent Opera" the longest (20 mins) track of the album is a multi-faceted suite that kind of summarize the entire album and ends with a killing saxophone solo that starts light and spiritual and becomes an energetic funky-rock workout.
Obviously the above is a simplification, those musicians have developed a connection that can only be forged through shared experiences and a mutual understanding that goes well beyond just the musical relation. The music is full of shadings, and is kept constantly stirred and varied, between the whisper and the fierce cry that create the sparks, between the abstract jumps, spiralling lines and downright catchy. They keep each other on their toes, they follow each other so closely that it kind of turns out they're just running in the same direction. It's refreshingly honest, direct, quite accessible in fact, light and natural, engaging as the actual conversation would be. Pure and simply. Rhythm and melody.
A treat for fans of Vandermark and Daisy, fans of sax-duos. Not essential, but highly enjoyable and well worth hearing, a nice addition to the (extensive) discography of these two gentlemen,who, I hope, need no introduction. And if they do this is a great place to start.
There's a decent selection of videos on YouTube where you can check the duo playing. Let me suggest
1. A funky one (for sentimental reasons, but the playing is definitely not sentimental - it comes from the concert in Alchemia and I've been there, heck I can see the outline of my bald head in the audience) - there are three others excerpts from that evening, all worth checking out.
2. There's an entire concert concert (two sets and the encore) that took place very recently (30.07.2011) at Conundrum Music Hall. The sound quality is not the best but it is decent enough to give you a good idea of how in sync this duo is. (I'm only watching it now, in the middle of the 1st set and it rocks!)