Charlie Rouse

Two Is One

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By this point, the assumption that listeners would like this record simply because they liked Charlie Rouse's work with the Thelonious Monk Quartet would be presumptuous. The music found herein is much more typical for a Strata East release than it is typical for Rouse. Modern, beat-conscious listeners on the hunt for hip-hop samples will find a number of tasty moments here. Most of them are to be found on the much funkier first side. The tune "Hopscotch," in particular, begins with one of the most sample-ready intros ever committed to disc. Also, and in seemingly direct contrast, if features a busy, complex head, making it sound more like a George Russell piece than one fit for a Strata East record. Otherwise, the album's opener, "Bitchin'," as well as "In a Funky Way," are both expectedly rocking (given the titles and all), with the latter being especially reminiscent of the Meters. Rouse and company take a sharp left turn on the second side, during which they perform the title track (in two sections) and the brooding "In His Presence Searching." "Two Is One" begins with a bassline in 9/8, drums in 6/8, and cello and tenor in 3/4. Needless to say, it sounds little like the funk-inspired tunes on side one. Only when the second section kicks in does the group lay down a groove -- albeit in 7/8. The result is funky enough to forget that it's in seven but entirely too odd for even the hippest dancefloor. Rouse's style translates well to this kind of material. His solos are as fluid as ever and even on spiritual numbers like "In His Presence Searching" -- during which he makes a rare appearance on bass clarinet -- he sounds at home. Given his discography, this record is atypical and probably not for everyone, but enjoyable nonetheless.

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