Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Bruce Barth and Steve Wilson - Home (We Always Swing, 2010)

This is a lyrical and spacious collaboration between pianist Bruce Barth and alto and soprano saxophonist Steve Wilson. The music is a mix of Barth original compositions and well known standards recorded live before a sympathetic audience. The sound is very close and intimate with the musicians sculpting the empty space and silence around them. Fast paced tracks show the musicians at their best, the opening "All Through the Night" spools out into a very lengthy investigation of the standard, with Wilson's tart alto and Barth's full bodied pianism making the most of the open ended format. Bud Powell's bebop anthem "Wail" was an excellent performance, taken at a very fast pace and showing the agility and imagination of the duo, they move through the bebop chestnut with a great deal of energy, injecting some much needed energy into the proceedings. "The Ways of the West" has Wilson switching to soprano saxophone and swirling buoyantly above Barth's solid and earthy comping. "Keep It Moving" has some jaunty almost stride like piano, before Wilson glides back in with fluid and graceful saxophone taken at an easy going medium tempo. "L.C." slows things down to a gentle ballad tempo, with some soft and billowing soprano gliding around spacious piano chords in a very patient performance. "Blues Interruptus" has a slow grooving, slightly funky feel to it, picking up to a strong mid-tempo performance. Recorded live before an appreciative crowd in Columbia, Missouri this is a very solid performance of modern mainstream jazz, the musicians are patient and thoughtful and make for very compassionate partners.

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