By Brian Zimmerman | Published May 2017
Dutch bassist Joris Teepe and American saxophonist Don Braden have been having a musical conversation for the past two-and-a-half decades. Conversations celebrates their 25 years of collaboration, which began in 1992 during a routine recording session in New York, where they both now live. It has blossomed into a partnership rich in dynamic interplay, spit-fire bop locutions and endless groove.
The album treads mostly in waters of post-bop, a subgenre that both players navigate with ease. Elvin Jones’ “Three Card Molly” is a prime example: Braden’s muscular tenor tone carves out the zig-zagging melody in high relief, while Teepe drives a strong current through the center. Drummer Gene Jackson adds rhythmic force to this and two additional tunes, and Matt Wilson engages in fiery cymbal work on four others. The group seems liberated by the lack of a chordal instrument. “Stolen Time,” penned by Wilson and articulated with deep feeling by Braden on flute, features a relentless ride sizzle that ignites the song from within, and the group’s cover of “Footprints” is an ode to fragmentation and suspense.
But perhaps the loveliest takes on this album are Charles Mingus’ “Goodbye Porkpie Hat,” Gershwin and Weil’s “This Is New” and Teepe’s “We Take No Prisoners,” all of which are performed as duets. The pared-down setting permits listeners to focus on the tightly woven interplay between the two co-leaders, from which countless musical gems are uncovered like old memories between good friends.
Conversations: Humpty Dumpty; Three Card Molly; Goodbye Porkpie Hat; Eddieish; This Is New; Footprints; Stolen Time; It’s You Or No One; Our Love Is Hear To Stay. (60:41)
Personnel: Joris Teepe, bass; Don Braden, tenor saxophone, flute; Gene Jackson (2, 4, 6), Matt Wilson (1, 7, 8, 9), drums.