It all started, of course, with J.J. Johnson and Kai Winding back in the 1950s, but the trombone duo with rhythm has since been tried from time to time with varying success by several others. This one is sure to please fans of the genre, for not only are John Allred and Wycliffe Gordon two of the top jazz trombonists around, but the choice of tunes, the attention to detail, and the fine arrangements add up to a whopping good time, not to mention a splendid example of modern technical artistry. The bold, if not audacious, opener, "It's All Right With Me," lays down the challenge, as Allred's arrangement brings back memories of Johnson and Winding, for the tune was one of their most popularly recorded numbers. Highlights abound as Allred and Gordon engage in a startlingly fast and vigorous version of Ellington's "Cottontail"; a swinging take of Horace Silver's "The Preacher"; an overdubbed trombone quartet of "The Curse of an Aching Heart," which features some characteristically energetic scatting from Gordon; and a tastefully emotional rendition of "America the Beautiful." The fairly tepid rhythm section is curiously reminiscent of the classic The Great Kai and J.J. album, so that in both cases the focus is totally on the horns. For some of the best modern jazz trombone blowing on disk, try out Head to Head: You won't be disappointed.
AllMusic Review by Steve Loewy
feat: Wycliffe Gordon