Dan Cavanagh and James Miley with John Hollenbeck, Another Life, S/N Alliance ***

We on the blog generally bog-trot merrily enough along but reserve more than a country mile or two distance away from sitting down to an album that has a two-piano conversation going on as its centre or only point of difference. The reason that the …

Published: 24 Aug 2022. Updated: 33 days.

We on the blog generally bog-trot merrily enough along but reserve more than a country mile or two distance away from sitting down to an album that has a two-piano conversation going on as its centre or only point of difference. The reason that the format often tries our patience - and we may not be typical at all in this - is eventual overkill. There is a particular state of being when pianists getting together head to head usually at the controls of some beautiful, highly tuned and cared for, top of the range instruments tend to agree musically with everything the other player produces, good, bad or indifferent. It can be exhausting. It can also against all expectations work.

We weren't necessarily looking for massive inspiration in listening to pianists Dan Cavanagh and James Miley. But there is a twist and quite a fork in the road it is to of course up the ante of what these two fine players can fashion up themselves whether you buy into the format or not to reach the point to appreciate what so substantially is achieved here. Because that added value is in the arrangement and also the presence of John Hollenbeck on 'Another Life' written by Cavanagh from the album of the same name. The Claudia Quintet's Hollenbeck is a composer who is a genius who is a drummer or if you prefer a genius who is a drummer who is a composer or how about a drummer who is a composer who is a… you get the drift. He is certainly not slacking here.

Uncork all this to let out the flow that is the genie in the bottle by pressing play to discover two very subtle pianists who know the value of space and how not to go all grandiose and into the overkill red zone. And above all realise that they are players who know how to work with a drummer as an equal not as someone who is exclusively playing along to their however ingenious (and they are) highly crafted often quite moving lapping lines of enchantment.

The full album of Another Life is out in late-October

Image top - detail from the cover art

Tags: 1 of 6 of the latest album and track reviews

Mark Guiliana, A Path To Bliss, Edition ****

Track of the day and new in the one luv spot is the opener from October release The Sound of Listening a strong tonally woodwind flavoured almost quiescent piece underpinned by deftly sensitive piano lines and the shimmering suggestion of mellotron …

Published: 24 Aug 2022. Updated: 33 days.

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Track of the day and new in the one luv spot is the opener from October release The Sound of Listening a strong tonally woodwind flavoured almost quiescent piece underpinned by deftly sensitive piano lines and the shimmering suggestion of mellotron and rare keyboard instrument the ampli-celesta and written by Mark Guiliana, famed for his blood and guts work in the prog-loving Mehliana which is one of Brad Mehldau's best albums over the last decade and that particular bar is set teeteringly high.

The Sound of Listening is shaped around an ensemble that includes famed Israeli pianist Shai Maestro, reedist Jason Rigby and bassist Chris Morrissey. It's the pick and briefer of the two tracks streaming so far given the nuanced blend in both the instrumental mix and the atmosphere created on one hand and the impact the track achieves on the other.

2010's Alive (Edition)

What we know of the sounds so far certainly marks a change of approach from Guiliana who is hugely influential globally on progressively inclined jazzers. Excavating that thought remember the impact the drummer made on the original Phronesis record Alive before Anton Eger became identified as the drummer in the band?

2014's Mehliana (Nonesuch)

Whether you know it or not it was a big part of the foundations of the Phronesis approach that became one of the biggest UK-based new band multi-national touring and recording success stories of recent years ahead of the current focus on a new cycle of very different acts stylistically.