Steve Swell and Chris Kelsey have been working as a duo since mid-1994. Working as a unit has, for the most part, consisted of hours upon hours upon more hours of weekly rehearsing and woodshedding broken by the very occasional public performance. Occasional is euphemistic. The fact is, this duo had performed publicly only once prior to this recording.
The hours together have brought an intuitive interplay and the isolation has allowed a purity of artistic purpose. The result is music which is surprising, inventively narrative and wonderful fun.
The fact that this remarkable duo has only had one public performance and that this is their debut session recording as a duo, and as leaders, perhaps says as much about the priorities of the creative improvising music scene as does any Lincoln Center affirmation.
On this session the performances are issued in the order they were recorded and, except for two false starts on "The Best Things in Jazz Are Free" and an incomplete take on "An Afterthought," all the performances were done in one take except for "Bill Clinton Digs Stan Getz" and "Cage Was Occasionally Wrong," each of which had two takes; the second of both appears here.
So here you have the results of two artists who have developed their artistry privately, uncompromisingly, and for their own satisfaction. Artistic priority, inventive freshness, harmony, and dischord; the achievements are many, the rewards are great. It makes one wonder how much other great music goes unheard.
Robert D. Rusch