In the spirit of many early chamber or contemporary acoustic jazz guitar duos, Goran Ivanovic and Fareed Haque, both hailing from Chicago, have an extraordinary empathy and keen listening skills playing off one another, and allowing space to play solo. That's what you hear on this fully realized CD of original musics that borrow from their native Serbian, Croatian, Pakistani, and Chilean heritages, with a substantial European classical feel, Spanish and French components, and good old American jazz improvisation. Throughout this delightful program, they are quick to respond to each other's whims and fancies, but never get in the way. The democracy these two show for their different styles, and the clear respect, is more remarkable than the music itself. Not that there isn't some wondrous playing, but in concert these two eclipse the restrictions of a studio or CD. Of the solos, Ivanovic plays "Three Waltzes" pastoral, pretty, and restrained; a sped-up animated "Evocation"; a Bill Evans-influenced "Jazz"; and a modal 4/4 "Toccata." Haque takes his turn in a somber "Neverending," introspective "Manresa," and chamber/Baroque "Fantasia in D." While some of the twin-guitar cuts like "Topansko Oro" are melodic and measured, and the two-part "Zadji Zadji" is completely peaceful, there are others that cut loose. "Chase" is a very hot pyrotechnical romp, "Gypsy Circus" perfectly depicts its title, and "Wall of the White City" reflects their most immediate and telling influence, the music of the My Goal's Beyond style of John McLaughlin. Interestingly enough, only on "Chase" do they invoke the speed-demon testosterone-driven force of the McLaughlin-Paco de Lucía-Al di Meola trio. And for pure Mediterranean style, the title track is their signature piece, not surprisingly in beats of seven. Unlike their predecessors, Ivanovic and Haque demonstrate how restraint and good taste make better, more enduring music, and excepting the longstanding duo of Jorge Strunz and Ardeshir Farah, nobody is inventing refrains with such far-ranging global implications that are complete, and so very well executed, as these two. This is one for your wish list.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos