By Yoshi Kato | Published February 2017
The heralded Roman god who lends his name to the title (and image to the packaging) of pianist Nick Sanders and saxophonist Logan Strosahl’s debut duo recording provides listeners with some guidance as to what they can expect from this impressive album. The long- time friends and collaborators and former New England Conservatory classmates reflect Janus’ deific seniority and stature by drawing on source material that spans eight centuries.
Written by Guillaume de Machaut in the mid-1300s, “Rose, Liz, Printemps, Verdure” rolls out with a requisite discipline before passing through modern improvisational territory and then resolving back into Renaissance era tranquility. The alternately flowing and jolting “Sigma,” composed by Sanders, refers to a villain in the Mega Man video game franchise. The playful, Strosahl-penned title track showcases the pair’s locked-in playing style and instinctive, almost sibling-like ability to respond to one another throughout the piece.
Janus was an incorporeal gatekeeper and the symbol of beginnings, so it’s appropriate that Strosahl and Sanders tackle a couple of standards that embody the Great American Songbook: Tere’s an uplifting lightness of step in Strosahl’s tone on “Old Folks” that is further supported by Sanders’ crisp accompaniment and solo. “Stardust” is refreshed by the impressive rapport and natural pathos that the two enjoy. And with its hooks and twists, Monk’s “Thelonious” serves as a natural outlet for the duo’s give-and-take partnership.
Janus: Sigma; Allemande, Thelonious; R.P.D.; Mazurka; Old Folks; Be-Bop Tune; Rose, Liz, Printemps, Verdure; Selections From Vingt Regards Sur L’Enfant-Jesus; Janus; Stardust; Les Amusemens. (41:48)
Personnel: Nick Sanders, piano; Logan Strosahl, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone.