Double Time

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Paul Bley learned long ago what it took many other avant-garde musicians (particularly saxophonists) years to realize, that it is not necessary to play free improvisations at a consistently ferocious level; one can improvise freely with lyricism, melodies and an inventive use of space. Throughout his often-fascinating duet set with Jane Bunnett (the latter is mostly on soprano but also plays some of her very individual flute), Bley is very much the leader, setting the atmosphere and the groove (if there is any). Other than "Music Matador" (which was written by Prince Lasha and Sonny Simmons 30 years ago), all of the 11 selections (which range in length from 41 seconds to eight minutes) were composed by Bley and/or Bunnett, much of it improvised on the spot. Generally the performances are concise enough not to overstay their welcome with the most memorable tracks being Bunnett's scalar (a la Steve Lacy) "B&B on the Rocks," the ballad "Foolishly," and the delightfully overcrowded and constantly evolving "Green & Brown." This is stimulating music subtle enough to reward repeated listenings.

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