A superb group featuring pianist Dwike Mitchell and bassist/French horn player Willie Ruff, the Mitchell-Ruff Duo has been recorded erratically and rarely reissued on CDs. This 1959 Town Hall concert is a recreation of an earlier performance in Moscow that could not be recorded due to problems with the Soviet regime. (Ruff taught himself Russian in order to better communicate with musicians and the audience during their stay in the Soviet Union, which is described in detail within Ruff's excellent autobiography, A Call to Assembly.) The piano/bass duets include a subtle arrangement of "Walking," an unusual take of "When Lights Are Low" that utilizes a recurring clock-like vamp, a playful "Squeeze Me," and a driving version of Clifford Brown's exciting bop anthem "Daahoud." The one original number, "Moscow Nights" (co-written by Mitchell and Ruff), is reminiscent of the semi-classical compositions of John Lewis. Piano/French horn duets include the understated "Love Look Away" and a lovely arrangement of Claude Debussy's impressionistic My Reverie. Perhaps the Mitchell-Ruff Duo is too esoteric for many jazz fans, but those who comb websites and magazines specializing in collectable LPs such as this release will be in for a treat when they locate a copy.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden