Ron Kalina

The Odd Couple

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One doesn't normally think of harmonica and tuba together in a small-group setting, yet Ron Kalina and Jim Self not only pull it off, but excel in their diverse program. While liner note writer Don Heckman joked that he thought the combination sounded like "just this side of a root canal" when he first heard of it, the results are surprising. Both Kalina and Self, who recorded an album together in 1983, are superb technicians who solo with gusto, yet they also know a thing or two about complementing one another's work. With guitarist Larry Koonse, bassist Tom Warrington, and drummer Joe La Barbera joining in the fun, they offer a hip, swinging treatment of Neal Hefti's lighthearted theme from The Odd Couple. There's a marvelous treatment of Oliver Nelson's signature blues, "Stolen Moments," and intricate renditions of Charlie Parker's challenging "Confirmation" and "Donna Lee," pieces that should be impossible to negotiate with any substance at anything but a slow tempo. They also explore Brazilian music by Jobim and Eça with equal authority. Both leaders contributed strong originals to the date too. This is a perfect CD for curing any blues one might have.

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