Wayne Krantz

Separate Cages

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When it comes to fusion guitarists, Wayne Krantz and Leni Stern are like night and day. Krantz is essentially a hard, muscular player, while Stern favors a lyrical, subtle approach influenced by Pat Metheny. Nonetheless, the two were often paired in the 1980s and 1990s (which, in the 1960s or 1970s, would have been like having Chet Baker co-lead a two-trumpet group with Freddie Hubbard or uniting Phil Woods and Paul Desmond in a two-alto front line). There were times when they complemented one another, as well as times when Krantz made the mistake of overpowering her. Thankfully, that generally doesn't happen on Separate Cages, an acoustic-oriented blend of jazz, pop and rock that called for subtlety and economy rather than aggression. Reflective offerings like "King's Cross" (which is dedicated to the late guitarist Emily Remler), "Point Falling" and "Veronique" definitely required some restraint, and for the most part, Krantz knows when to hold back. Another high point of this decent, though not essential, CD is the slightly melancholy "Leave Softly," which Stern had introduced three years earlier on her Like One album of 1993. Those who enjoyed Stern's previous work with Krantz will find Separate Cages to be one of their more successful collaborations.

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