RINGER OF THE WEEK
If you're not a sucker for duet albums, maybe THIS one will change your mind. Acoustic guitarist John Stowell sits down by the fireplace with Dave Liebman for a collection of duets that sounds like a conversation between masters of their craft, which is exactly what it is.
Liebman, who is better known for being a bit on the left of center side of music, reigns in like a stallion while delivering deft performances on tenor, soprano, wood flute and even piano. The cozy interplay on material such as "Ishfahan" and "My Ideal" bring out the warmth and romanced nuance of Liebman's tenor, and Stowell is deft with his strings, knowing when to lend support and when to take the lead. His intro on the former is quietly swinging, while he creates a warm glow of support for Liebman's flute on Wayne Shorter's "Black Eyes" that resonates superbly. The piano/guitar paux de deux on "How Deep Is The Ocean" and "Time Remembered" is sensitive and sublime, while Liebman's soprano on the rarely heard piece of Ellingtonia "Blue Rose" blossoms with joy. Stowell supplies the essential rhythms and refuses to get overwhelmed by Liebman's presence, making this a marvelous collection of melody, harmony and joie de vivre.