Avram K. Fefer

Kindred Spirits

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It is hard to go wrong with this kind of duo recording. Pianist Bobby Few -- at his most restrained with nods to the great Red Garland -- and reed player Avram Fefer have chosen a program that for the most part consists of favorite pieces from the modern jazz repertoire. There's a generous portion of Thelonious Monk, a couple of great Charles Mingus tunes, and a Duke Ellington piece that has already inspired great duo performances, "Come Sunday." Neither Few nor Fefer choose to do anything even mildly provocative and thus potentially insulting with this material, the first portion of this sentence sounding like some kind of proclamation from a village elder. If material such as this is played well, as it is here, then it would be hard to suggest a time and place in which a fan of modern jazz wouldn't want to hear these tunes. Having the confidence and self-control to play them straight, with the utmost of respect and the proper amount of honest sentimentality, should and does result in excellent performances when delivered by musicians of this calibre. Then, come track eight, the experience changes slightly with the presentation of several original compositions from Fefer. These solemn and lovely performances, including two short takes of a spiritual entitled "Kingdom Come," are in one sense a stark contrast, the program moving from famous, instantly recognizable tunes by jazz stars to most likely unheard original compositions by players who have never graced, for example, the cover of Time magazine. It brings a CD that has already been a delightful experience to quite a special end.