Julius Hemphill / Oliver Lake

Buster Bee

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During the mid- and late '70s, countless duo recordings were released by members of the jazz avant-garde. While the driving force behind this strategy was economic (two could travel much more cheaply than six or more), this necessity also forced the artists to construct new and challenging strategies for playing, especially when the combination of instruments was less than traditional. At the time of this recording, Hemphill and Lake already formed half of the World Saxophone Quartet, but Buster Bee allows them an unusual intimacy that fosters some lovely playing and interaction. They stick to the higher reeds (and flutes), imbuing the pieces with an airy quality as they effortlessly interweave lines and ideas. All of the tracks are composed (though allowing for substantial improvisation) and are a pleasingly varied bunch, from the jaunty title track to the achingly elegiac "Fertility." Both players are near the top of their game, with subtle liquid phrasing giving way to impassioned cries on a moment's notice. Recommended.

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