|This duet with Harold Danko is the second to appear on SteepleChase. The first ( Cancoes do Brazil SCCD 31463 ) was well received by critics. Material includes mostly standard ballads.
Tenor saxophone and piano make for a natural pair, particularly in the hands of old friends like Perry and Danko. This is their second Steeplechase disc as a duo and it picks up dutifully where the previous one left off by doling out a selection of nine standards, the majority of them ballads. Two Coltrane-associative tunes stress a key influence on the proceedings. Many of the dialogues suggest a fictional meeting of Trane and Tommy Flanagan, say, circa their brief tenure together on Atlantic. There’s also the conspicuous presence of Stan Getz in much of Perry’s parlance and by proxy, the disc recalls Getz’s various discourses with Kenny Barron. The remaining pieces are typical picks stamped with personal improvisatory watermarks. Perry’s liquid lilting line on “I Hear a Rhapsody” sets the prevailing mood, the edges of his cursive aural script betraying intentional ink smudges. Danko comps keenly beneath, his two-handed patterns broken by rounded syncopations that propel the piece with gentle underlying rhythm. “Soul Trane” spools out in another lush confluence of keyed and blown melody. Perry takes his time, molding his interpolations like a length of ductile copper wire into whorled melody-rich shapes. His whistle-pitched cadenza comes out of left field as a welcome surprise when compared to the breezy permutations that precede it.
Both men play beautifully with poise to spare, Perry paying particular attention to supple tonal striations in his phrasing and Danko shifting smoothly from ornamental accompaniment to strong foreground figures. If there’s a solecism to the session, it’s probably the general drowsiness suffuses some of the numbers. Tracks like “Beautiful Love”, “Yesterdays”, and “Autumn Leaves” cycle by in sedate succession, both players languidly strolling through the opulent changes and turning up the laidback romance, careful not to step on each other’s figurative toes or rush things. Coltrane’s “Central Park West” unfolds at far more relaxed clip than usual with Danko dealing out a gilded preface and Perry gliding in slo-mo through the theme, his legato delivery once again rimmed with a nimbus of textured tonal fleece. It’s largely low-key fare, but not lacking when it comes to quiet creativity. Listeners looking for an intimate colloquy between two tradition-grounded jazzmen will likely delight in what they find here. No ear-singeing pyrotechnics to speak of, but that’s not the point. Instead, Perry and Danko prove themselves consummate balladeers and the outcome is disarmingly addictive.
~ Derek Taylor