Northwest-based pianist / vocalist Dawn Clement has been making quite a name for herself. In addition to releasing several albums under her own name since 2003, she has also made substantial pianistic contributions to others' works. Recently she's been appearing on albums by soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom. (That's the first place I heard her.) Her work in the rhythm section (with bassist Mark Helias and drummer Bobby Previte) on Bloom's recent Wild Lines is one of the reasons for the major success of that record.
Fresh off that success, Clement releases Tandem, a collection of duets with players with whom she shares an obvious affinity. They include legendary trombonist Julian Priester (with whom she recorded an album back in 2003), Seattle-based saxophonist Mark Taylor, vocalist Johnaye Kendrick, bassist Michael Glynn and drummer Matt Wilson (who Clement used on her trio album Break). Tandem's program is a mix of originals, standards and a couple of unusual tracks. Her two duets with Priester are wonderfully oblique and the two sound like they are having fun musically jousting with each other. Monk's "Bemsha Swing", done with Wilson, is playful with unexpected pauses and an erratic pace. Lennie Tristano's "Ablution", performed with alto saxophonist Mark Taylor is taken at a fiery tempo and given a reading that will have Tristano-ites nodding in approval. The second tune with Taylor, "Sugar Cliff" by guitarist Brad Shepik, is a nice find. Clement sings a wordless vocal on this one. Her voice has a light quality but don't read that as insubstantial. Her phrasing is unique and works perfectly on this tune. "I Think Of You", one of the two tracks with vocalist Kendrick, is a particularly nice with the two harmonizing over Clement's piano.
Tandem is an enjoyable, well-organized recording, well worth hearing.