Vibraphonist Joe Locke and marimba player Christos Rafalides (who did graduate work under Locke at the Manhattan School of Music) join forces to create an impressive series of duets, mostly focusing on their intriguing original compositions, all of which were premiered at a concert several weeks prior to entering the studio to make this CD. Locke's striking opener, "Van Gogh by Numbers," has a delicious theme from which springs a stunning mix of variations, with an unmistakable influence from the duet of Chick Corea and Gary Burton. The understated Latin ballad "Sword of Whispers" has a haunting quality that merits lyrics to accompany it on a future recording. Locke's "Suite di Morteo" was first conceived as a vehicle for his quartet. The first movement ("Now I Lay Me Down") is a gentle ballad featuring Locke alone. Rafalides is added for the tense "Now in Darkness I Dream," then they switch instruments for the introspective "Waking Now, I Wonder." Rafalides is also a formidable composer. His "Sorayia" blends Latin and Baroque influences. He and Locke switch instruments in Rafalides' "Pandora's Dance." The two pieces not written by either man also merit strong praise. They transform the ballad "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing" by playing it as a clave in 9/4. Their Latin conception of "Blue in Green" also takes this well-known piece into a new direction. A follow-up session by Joe Locke and Christos Rafalides is clearly in order.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden