Bill Frisell and Thomas Morgan, "Small Town: Recorded Live at the Village Vanguard" (ECM)
"Chamber Jazz" doesn't get a whole lot more "chamber" than this duet which was recorded at the venerable Village Vanguard by the duo that will, this weekend, mark jazz producer Bruce Eaton's return to the Art of Jazz series at the Albright-Knox Gallery.
Paul Motion's "It Should Have Happened A Long Time Ago" begins the disc with static poetry. Lee Konitz' "Subconscious Lee" reminds you where this music's brainiest post-bop roots are. "Wildwood Flower" reminds you that this pair can be folksy as all getout and fun to listen to besides. Frisell's title tune is American poetry. Dan Bartholomew and Fats Domino's "What a Party" is a delicious bit of New Orleans musical scholarship. After the justly named "Poet-Pearl", they prove that John Barry's music for "Goldfinger" was so good that it didn't need Shirley Bassey's maximum volume or lyrics that warn you of crime's impending doom. Frisell has always been one of jazz' premiere contemplative poets but with ECM's crystalline sound, Thomas Morgan's contrapuntal bass lines are an enriching delight.
3 1/2 stars (out of four)