Kenny Barron / Regina Carter

Freefall

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Violin/piano duet sessions are routine in the classical music world -- after all, Beethoven wrote ten sonatas for this combination -- but you rarely encounter them in jazz, due in great part to the shortage of jazz violinists. The Kenny Barron/Regina Carter sessions came about sometime after a gig at Sweet Basil's in New York -- and since the two happen to record for the same label, one imagines the only obstacle was the commercial potential of this teaming. But not to worry, for this session has plenty of life and wit; indeed, the sounds of the violin and piano go together as naturally in jazz as in the classical field (must be the resonating strings and wood factors that these instruments share). Carter clearly provides a lot of the spark with her ability to swing, often juxtaposed with classical poise straight from the conservatory, prodding the congenitally professional Barron into occasionally taking some chances. Among the high points are "Softly As in a Morning Sunrise," which gets rolling on an Afro-Cuban vamp from Barron, a delightful take on Johnny Hodges' happy-go-lucky "Squatty Roo," and Barron's own Monk-ish "What If," which takes a quirky, running, walking ostinato in the left hand as its launching point. The title track, credited to both, is undoubtedly an unplanned, spontaneous leap into the avant-garde, with detours into impressionism and an unfettered playful spirit.

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