Mike Nock

The Waiting Game

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Longtime friends and jammates since the '70s, Mike Nock and Marty Ehrlich finally got together to document their shared values. While Nock's witty notions are clear on the piano, it is Ehrlich who provides the surprises whether on alto or soprano sax, clarinet or bass clarinet. They form a partnership that languishes in subtleties and shaded nuance, well within modern mainstream or creative improvised guidelines, with occasional twists. Of the 13 selections there are two standards: Dave Brubeck's light swinging, clarinet driven evergreen tribute to Duke Ellington, "The Duke," and James P. Johnson's immortal "Snowy Morning Blues," with Ehrlich's potent alto inspiring Nock's classic striding. Two traditional folk melodies are also adapted; the pensive, hymnal, bass clarinet based "El Testamen de Amelia," and "Amhran Pheader Breathnach," with heavy modal piano and soprano waltzing along. Other 3/4 numbers include the spirit waltz for Ehrlich's soprano, "Reconciliations," and the more quiet, spaced notes by provided by alto sax or piano mixed with silence for emphasis in "In the Moment." Their most patient construct is prevalent on the title track -- a pained, longing soprano/piano duet laced with gut wrenching discourse and a reggae feel midway through, while the lithe alto sax bop of "Like Spring," playful bass clarinet call and response in "Jacanori," and the spontaneous time-shifting and romping improv that takes place during "Break Time" provide interesting contrasts. More cutting edge is the mini-suite "Postcards," with a quiet, long toned clarinet, inside piano string trade-outs, giddy and reckless abandon in the B section, and distinct point/counterpoint for resolution. These two brilliant musicians need little critical comment, their musicianship stands on its own high merit. Recommended.

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