For jazz artists, performing in an intimate duo setting can be a major risk. You are exposed, naked and vulnerable; there are fewer musicians to help you out, and if you should drop the ball at any time, your mistakes are all the more obvious. But if the right musicians are involved and they know exactly what they are doing, a duo project can be rewarding. Frédéric Favarel fearlessly jumped into that type of challenging situation in April 1998, when the French guitarist entered a studio with acoustic pianist Richie Beirach and recorded this album of guitar/piano duets. There are no drums, bass or horns on Dialogues--just Beirach's piano and Favarel's guitar (both electric and acoustic). The musicians are at their most vulnerable, and that proves to be a good thing because Favarel and Beirach enjoy a strong rapport throughout the album. Had their rapport not been as strong, Dialogues could have been problematic. But the jazzmen are very much in sync on this standards-free CD, which contains seven pieces by Favarel and two by Beirach. The material is cerebral post-bop--intellectual and abstract, certainly, but often poetic in an impressionistic sort of way. Neither musician goes out of his way to be accessible; those who don't like their post-bop on the cerebral side may have a hard time getting into Dialogues. But Beirach obviously understands where Favarel is coming from, and vice-versa. Beirach has no problem getting into Favarel's compositions; nor does Favarel have a problem getting into two Beirach pieces: "Riddles" and "Rectilinear." On Dialogues, the improvisers enjoy exactly that--a dialogue, and it's a dialogue that offers the listener rewards if he/she is not intimidated by the more abstract styles of post-bop jazz.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson