Time and space can take nothing away from certain musical relationships. There are those on-and-off partnerships that flourish regardless of the frequency of encounters and years gone by, and this is clearly one of them.
The connection between bass masters David Friesen and Glen Moore goes back some five decades. It yielded two previous duo recordings - In Concert (Vanguard, 1977) and Returning (Burnside, 1993) - and it continues to bear fruit. This third recorded chapter of the Friesen-Moore story began to take shape in 2013. That's when jazz PR mogul Don Lucoff invited the pair to perform in Portland, ultimately rekindling the collaborative spirit that surrounds and binds them.
Bactrian, taking its name from a two-humped camel endemic to the steppes in Central Asia, speaks to the kinship between Friesen and Moore in so many different ways. They walk tightropes together, provide support for one another, and show a great deal of respect for the acts of creation and communication. Their bonds are strong enough to be loose, flexible enough to move in many directions, and unique enough to avoid easy comparison to any other pairing. And with each man switching to piano on occasion, you never know what may happen.
Two bass duo numbers bookend the album - the jovial "Still Waters" and the moody, arco-centric title track - and a trove of creative works sit between them. There's menacing-cum-inquisitive music with Moore on piano ("Free Play"), an upbeat shindig that speaks with countrified tones ("Hoe Down"), an emotionally weighted outlet ("Soft As Silk"), an exploration around and through a Juan Tizol classic ("Caravan"), and a look toward the outer limits ("Kontrast"). And then there are the solo stands, back-to-back and different as can be. Friesen's feature is a solo piano medley that speaks both to a search for what's missing and a degree of contentment with what's been found ("Time And Time Again/Brilliant Heart), and Moore's solo is a wonderfully languid interpretation of an immortal Gershwin song ("Summertime").
Whether operating on the same instrumental plane, playing piano against bass, or standing alone in the company of one another, David Friesen and Glen Moore manage to come off like the perfect pair. Both their differences and similarities tie them together.