The Mitchell-Ruff Duo

After This Message

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After several releases as a duo, pianist Dwike Mitchell and bassist/French horn player Willie Ruff expanded to a trio by adding a drummer on several dates, with mixed results. Since their intricate improvisations were part of the attraction of their performances, the presence of a drummer seems superfluous and at times distracting. The obscure drummer on this mid-'60s Atlantic LP is Helcio Milito, and his incongruous percussion on the modal-like "Autumn Leaves" makes him sound like he would have been a better fit with Eddie Harris and Les McCann on "Compared to What" a few years later. More successful is the up-tempo spontaneous blues by Mitchell and Ruff, "After This Message," as well as their improvisation on Ray Brown's "Solo for Unaccompanied Bass," which of course features the full trio. Ruff's "The Prank" incorporates the theme from "Till Eulenspiegel," recognized as the most challenging piece for those who study French horn; their 5/4 arrangement swings mightily. Long out of print, this LP could possibly resurface on a reissue label such as 32 Jazz or Collectors; otherwise, expect to pay a premium price for a pristine copy of the original release.

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