Philip Catherine / Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen

The Art of the Duo

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This summit meeting between Niels-Henning Ørsted Pederson, one of the most widely recorded and universally respected bassists in jazz history, and guitarist Philip Catherine, an almost equally revered guitarist and perhaps the foremost keeper of Django Reinhardt's gypsy-jazz flame in his generation, should have been a much more exciting one that it turns out to be. Recorded live in a jazz club in Lausanne, Switzerland, it is unfortunately a fairly tame affair, its highlights hidden behind poor production. (The recording level is so low that you have to crank your stereo up to a painful level just to hear in detail what is going on.) Interestingly, some of the best moments on this album are the bass solos, among them Pederson's dancing choruses on "Stella by Starlight" and on his own knotty composition "The Puzzle". Catherine's playing sounds conservative, almost tentative, and the proceedings rarely catch fire. Notable exceptions include the duo's interplay on "The Puzzle" and on a blazing rendition of the Jerome Kern standard "All the Things You Are". It's by no means a waste of time, but Art of the Duo is also far from the best introduction to the work of either of these fine musicians.

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