Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Kenny Barron, Regina Carter|
Genres: Jazz, Special Interest, Pop
Duet albums are inherently tricky affairs. Without the added textures and colors of a full band, the minimalist dynamics of two instruments alone together can too often turn repetitious and stale, as the difficulty of gene... more »
Amazon.com's Best of 2001
Duet albums are inherently tricky affairs. Without the added textures and colors of a full band, the minimalist dynamics of two instruments alone together can too often turn repetitious and stale, as the difficulty of generating sparks between two musicians turns into a disappointing experience for the listener. But there are exceptions, and happily, pianist Kenny Barron and violinist Regina Carter's Freefall is one of them. This is a wildly diverse set that shows off these two musicians' enormous talents to great effect. Freefall succeeds where other duet albums sometimes fail, thanks to its variety. Opening with the Afro-Cuban montuno-flavored version of "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise," the album moves through a delicate rendition of Sting's "Fragile," and a bluesy take on Thelonious Monk's "Misterioso," all of which showcase the two musicians' tremendous range. Barron and Carter complement each other perfectly throughout; their interplay even includes some interesting role-reversal moments where Carter backs Barron with rhythmic accompaniment on her violin. And Barron shows why he's still one of the most underappreciated pianists around. For all the pair's technical facility playing various jazz styles though, the high points of the album are undoubtedly on the tracks where they venture the furthest afield, as in the quirky Barron original "What If," and the improvised title track, both of which get into some interesting spaces that recall early 20th-century classical composers such as Bartók and Stravinsky. --Ezra Gale
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It's Not Called FREEFALL For Nothing. . . !
ROGER L. FOREMAN | Bath, Maine | 10/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Some people find risk-taking a "rush," while others find it purely terrifying and not-to-be-desired. This CD, an unlikely pairing at first glance, falls in the former category for this listener. I have been a big Regina Carter fan since I heard her on Stever Turre's LOTUS FLOWER (another great CD) and have since gathered all of her solo efforts. I am familiar with Kenny Barron's last several CDs. I like them both separately, but I wasn't sure what to think of them together. . . . That's one of the reasons I'm not a record executive! The "gamble," if it was one, paid off big-time, as these two wind their way around each other and the songs' melodies, occasionally reaching what some would call a "freefall," until one of them pulls the ripcord and opens the chute. The opening track, "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise," is simply gorgeous. I love what they do with Monk's "Misterioso" and Wayne Shorter's "Footprints." The title track is all it promises to be: they are all over the place, flailing wildly at moments, and only they know when the right moment occurs to reign in all of that energy. "A Flower" is a simply beautiful and quiet way to land and close the CD.Barron provides most of the steady undercurrent, while Carter improvises and roams all over the charts. Only very occasionally did I miss a bass or drum set. These two can hold their own! (Next time, though, let's add Dave Holland or Gary Peacock or even Greg Cohen, just to crank it up another notch. . . !) If you like the idea of the wind rushing wildly through your hair as you fall freely to the ground, then you will likely love this CD. Those of you who are a bit more cautious might want to listen to a couple of tracks before jumping out. . . ."
Sheer Beauty in Music
Leonard E. Brown | Washington, DC USA (via New Jersey) | 07/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It has been said that jazz is America's classical music. Never is that more apparent than when listening to this cd. These improvised duets come off at times, like sonatas for violin and piano (or sonatas for piano and violin, as W. A. Mozart often made the distinction). From the first strains of music that come from this album, you realize that your in for something special, something unique in this age of bass, drums, percussion, guitar and/or anything else that can constitute a "modern rhythm section" as far as a jazz recording is concerned. At times the level of intimacy reached on this album reminded me of the "Undercurrent" album by Bill Evans and Jim Hall or the "1+1" album recoreded by Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter.The album begins with a Latin, quasi-Afro-Cuban treatment of the jazz standard "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise" and it is brilliant! There are reasons why since the 1700's composers have consistently used the piano in duets with one other instrument (take your pick, violin, guitar, flute, saxophone, bass, cello, clarinet, the human voice, etc.) and Kenny Barron gives us ample answers as to what those reasons are...chief among them being that the piano can be a percussion instrument first, and one that plays notes second. His sense of rhythmic placement is unbelievable, so much so that half way through the first song, though you never forget that there are only two people playing, you never feel the need to whine, "I wish there were some drums or percussion or bass or just another person on this album." Indeed, the entirety of this broad and far-reaching album seems to dispel the notion that these two are, "just not enough."Sting's song "Fragile", from the 1987 ...Nothing Like the Sun album is given a wonderful treatment. Since the song was written by a pop-rock artist (albeit a prodigiously talented one, the term "pop-rock" was not meant to be derogatory) there are fewer chord changes for the duo to work through as opposed to a typical "jazz composition". Kenny Barron's harmonic adventures are incredible as are Regina Carter's imaginative devices used to accompany behind his solos. This is one of the pieces, along with the song "Phantoms," that has a very European-classical sonata feel to it due to the strength of the melody line itself (gotta give it up to those "pop-rock" composers) Beautiful.There are also times in songs like "Freefall", when the duets are reminiscent of late 19th into 20th century composers like Bela Bartok (see: Bartok sonatas for violin and piano...folk dances), Maurice Ravel or Zoltan Kodaly (see: Duet for Violin and Cello) or Carl Maria von Weber and Charles Ives as well as Thelonious Monk, especially on the Barron-penned "What If."I implore all European-classical music lovers to pick up this album because, while this is a jazz album, neither Barron nor Carter are ignorant of the tremendous legacy that their respective instruments have had on the music of the last 300-400 years.I also implore all jazz music lovers to pick up this album (that is if you haven't already) because it is a treat to be able to witness two musicians interacting on such an intimate level, creating and conversing right before your ears. Regina Carter never takes a back seat at any point though she gets second billing for this cd. And even when comping behind Kenny Barron, her presence is rock solid (just listen to "Shades of Gray") Wonderful!"
Made me enjoy jazz and piano in a whole new way
Macro Micro | San Francisco, CA United States | 12/12/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just bought this incredible work after hearing it played on KCSM in San Mateo. Words to describe it should include: precise, inventive, playful, beautiful, expressive, exciting. The pieces have no difficulty in moving between highly disparate idioms such as blues, 20th century music (I hear Bartok, Webern, Stravinsky), impressionism, and bop. There is not a dull moment on this CD; it develops constantly and has enough ideas to satisfy throughout. This is my favorite jazz in quite some time."