Phil Minton / Veryan Weston

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Ways Review

by Thom Jurek

The pairing of vocalist Phil Minton and pianist Veryan Weston is not so unusual. That their performance took place in a German restaurant and is constructed of a selection of songs by Ives, Schubert, Leiber & Stoller, and the principals themselves are, perhaps. Opening with a satirical song by Ives, Weston plays a shimmering set of harmonic changes based on the original awaiting Minton's entrance; he groans before entering the song with relish and verve. It sounds like a war march, but its lyrics are irreverent and humorous; they are interspersed with various improvisations between the verses. Next is "Genesis/245" by the all but unknown Lou Glanfield. It's a blues tune that is noteworthy for its altered, complex harmony, which was done by Eric Dolphy. Here improvisation and vamp become nearly synonymous. The wit Minton shows for his subject matter is infectious and Weston's deft moves in the timbrel realms offer different dimensions totem words, sounds and tonal sonorities evoked by Minton. And so it goes. The realization of "Heartbreak Hotel" as an art song is one of the more stunning selections on any Minton record, where images are brought out of the sheen of the narrative and echoed into life with Minton's delivery. Finally, there are suites made of workers' songs of WWI and from comic opera tunes by rather obscure sources -- which is fine because in the hands of these two, they become something other anyway. There is a seamless quality to the performance, where tempo, improvisation, and reverential respect for the originals all work in tandem and become part of a larger esthetic framework. This is one of Minton's most accessible recordings, and his live pairing with Weston is nothing short of a triumph.

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