|Even in the wide world of modern jazz, cello-alto sax duets are not exactly a common occurrence. In fact, there have not been that many major cello soloists throughout jazz history. Harry Babasin and Oscar Pettiford occasionally played cello in the 1950s, the cello was a key instrument in the Chico Hamilton Quintet (Fred Katz proved to be an innovator), and such bassists as Ron Carter, Sam Jones, and Doug Watkins occasionally recorded on cello in the early '60s. In more recent times, Abdul Wadud, Hank Roberts, Diedre Murray, and Ernst Reijseger have been among the most rewarding full-time improvising cellists. David Eyges certainly belongs on that list, and he has been industrious enough to record regularly as a leader.
Eyges first teamed up with altoist Arthur Blythe on records in 1996, and Sky is their second duo album; they also previously recorded as a trio with drummer Bruce Ditmas. Blythe, who has a soulful sound but an avant-gardist's sense of adventure, has always been a distinctive and explorative soloist.
The blend of alto and cello works quite well, as Blythe and Eyges perform five freely improvised pieces and four of Eyges' originals. Each soloist leaves plenty of room for the other, each selection develops logically, and the sound of the duo, even at its most passionate, is quite pleasing, even soothing at times. Clearly, the two musicians are very familiar with each other's playing, and they leave plenty of room while still reacting quickly to each other's ideas. Even listeners who claim that they do not care for avant-garde jazz will find this superior set difficult to dislike. ~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide