Two Of A Mind (Chris Biscoe and Allison Neale)- Then and Now
(Trio Records tr597. CD Review by Patrick Hadfield)
As well as taking their inspiration from collaboration in the late 1950s and early 1960s between Gerry Mulligan and Paul Desmond, saxophonists Chris Biscoe (baritone) and Allison Neale (alto) also named their band after one of Mulligan and Desmond's records.
Playing a mixture of standards played by Mulligan and Desmond, including arrangements transcribed by Neale, and new compositions based on them, Biscoe and Neale's quartet with drummer Stu Butterfield and bass player Jeremy Brown have a light, effortlessly swinging touch.
Rooted in the past, it feels timeless. Butterfield has a gentle, subtle approach, much of the time on brushes, and Brown is spot on, but it is the interaction between Biscoe and Neale that make this recording so pleasurable. At times they seem to gently circle each other, at others one will speed off on a solo. They playfully nudge each other along, as if playing a game of catch.
Mulligan and Desmond mostly recorded as a quartet, though they were joined by guitarist Jim Hall on a few tunes. Two of a Mind is similarly augmented by Colin Oxley on guitar for several tracks. This changes the dynamics slightly, making the music even more swinging. Oxley provides additional texture, adding to the rhythmic impulse.
Despite looking back over the decades, this music isn't nostalgic: it feels very much in "the now". Perhaps it is that character that makes tunes such as How Deep Is The Ocean and The Way You Look Tonight standards. The latter closes this album: taken quite fast, Brown's bass positively buzzes along, setting the pace; Biscoe's mellifluous baritone weaving in between Neale's fluid alto. A cracking way to finish a very enjoyable album!
Patrick Hadfield lives in Edinburgh, occasionally takes photographs, and sometimes blogs at On the Beat. Twitter: @patrickhadfield.
LINK: Sleeve note by Sebastian intended for the album Then and Now
Then and Now at Trio Records