Perhaps it’s the current economics of the business, but jazz duo discs seem to be on the increase. One interesting find is a collaboration between Canadian flugelhorn player Mike Herriott and American guitarist Sean Harkness, a session democratically divided with half the 10 originals recorded in Toronto, half in the Big Apple. The result is Flights: Volume One (www.harknessherriott.com) which is said to be the first of many more joint ventures. That’s good news, because Toronto-based Herriott’s horn and Harkness’s strings work on a very intimate basis, with elegant sounds abounding in an overall easygoing vibe – not an easy listening vibe, but one that commands attention be paid to the polished accomplishments of the performers. Four of the original tunes benefit from Toronto mainstays Jim Vivian (bass) and Kevin Coady (drums) joining in, while trombonist Mark Miller adds sonorities to Leap Year. There’s much sleek unison playing, almost always followed by soloing that’s very impressive technically with attention carefully paid to varying melodic line in an ongoing, alert dialogue of musical opinion. Just two instruments does tend to limit possibilities however, and thus the emphasis logically leans more to restraint than abandon while sometimes what’s mellow is overdone. Yet H2 (their designation) does produce excellent chamber jazz.
Written by Geoff Chapman