A Roy Nathanson CD released by Clean Feed? That can only be good news. The leader/saxophonist of the legendary Jazz Passengers, and the second saxophonist, with John Lurie, of the even more mythical Lounge Lizards debuts in the Portuguese catalogue with a compilation of duos. Taking a break from his paired down combo Sotto Voce which features his poetry and songwriting, this CD represents an even more intimate series of performances recorded live during a series of sessions at The Stone, John Zorn’s venue in New York, in June of 2015. The musicians invited include some of his old mates, namely trombonist Curtis Fowlkes, Passenger co-founder and former Lizard, pianist Anthony Coleman, his partner in a much applauded duet, and guitarist Marc Ribot, with whom Nathanson played in the Passengers and Rootless Cosmopolitans. The others, Arturo O’Farrill, Myra Melford and Lucy Hollier, are close souls of this man who turned jazz popular again in the Nineties, establishing himself as one of the protagonists of the downtown scene. This is the same man who somehow engaged Debbie Harry, vocalist of the punk / new wave band Blondie, and Elvis Costello to sing in a jazz context, with that gesture attracting a new audience without compromising himself and his ideas. The record is presented as a collection of «musical conversations between friends», that highlights the concept of “nearness” with the decision to include five completely different versions of the standard “The Nearness of You”, by Hoagy Carmichael and Ned Washington. Two are presented as such, the others appear with the humoristic titles “The Nearness of Ewes”, “The Nearness of Youse” and “The Nearness of Jews”. The other tracks are free improvisations, with the exception of a Carla Bley’s ex-libris, “Ida Lupino”, a composition by Nathanson and another by Hollier. It’s so good you wish you were there with them.
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