Kenny Barron and Dave Holland ‘The Art Of Conversation’ (Impulse/Universal) 4/5

kenny-barron-dave-hollandJazz legends pianist Kenny Barron and bassist Dave Holland need little or no introduction and their extended tenures with Stan Getz and Miles Davis respectively were the for their glittering careers. However, their personal collaboration is a relatively recent one and dates back to 2012 when the duo formed a musical partnership and performed globally thereafter. This 2014 studio recording is the summation of that experience. The delightful opener and Holland composition, ‘The Oracle’, hints at other worldly things and is characterised by some refined piano from Barron and melodic bass accompaniment. One of the most beautiful pieces is the Latinesque in expression ‘Dr. Do Right’ penned once more by Holland and recalling Barron’s own long-term love affair with Latin music that stretches way back into the 1960s and his sideman duties with Dizzy Gillespie. Bop influences emerge on the brisk uptempo bop tune ‘Segment’, a Charlie Parker composition and one in which Barron displays his mastery of the keyboards with an underlying nod to Bud Powell and on the Monk penned, ‘In walked Bud’. A tribute to the late Kenny Wheeler, ‘Waltz for K.W.’ finds the duo performing in genteel fashion and is reflective in keeping with Kenny Wheeler’s own demeanour. Delicate phrasing from the pianist is a feature of the ballad ‘Rain’ and the album ends in a contemplative mode on ‘Day Dream’ which is a Billy Strayhorn written piece. The interplay and natural empathy between the two musicians makes for over an hour of unadulterated pleasure and it goes without saying that the performances are of the highest order.

Tim Stenhouse