There is a distinctly American sound to the music and musings of Arthur Blythe & David Eyges. It’s a folk quality and it’s been at the core of their souls since each one’s first recorded documentation. For David that documentation began with The Captain, recorded for Chiaroscuro in 1977, and for Arthur it began with Horace Tapscott’s recording for Flying Dutchman in 1969.
As a duo, this broad genre of American folk music is offered up in stark relief; stark yet intricate and evocative, abstract but still conversant and intimate.
The conversational tone of the music is reflective of the relaxed conversational tone of the session: David and Arthur talking out ideas (That’s Arthur giving musical direction at the opening of “American Form,” unaware that David was already developing a direction. Even Arthur’s talk has a musical quality about it.), exploring direction, looking for the challenge within compatibility. And, except for the temporary presence of a bat which had inexplicably gotten into The Spirit Room and dive-bombed Arthur, the mood of this occasion was remarkably laid-back. Interspersing the music were reflections on Boston, L.A., Leadbelly, Jewish folksongs, children, various musical motifs, and explorations. And even with numerous breaks for sleep, food, coffee and talk, a remarkable consistency of color and tone maintained itself.
All the music was worked out during the session in what could have been viewed as a master workshop, and over time musical ideas became realized, new ideas opened and were exploited, filed, or put aside and slowly a concept and statement emerged.
The direction and overall ambiance of this session is not what I might have expected and hopefully not what the listener might expect. If you want the expected, you know where to go. This is Arthur Blythe and David Eyges in duo in August of 1997. Expect nothing else and enjoy the rewards.
Robert D. Rusch