I mentioned in another review this month that the piano / voice duet is one of the most difficult in music. Both sides of the binary equation have to be perfect to succeed. Well, in Bob Arthurs' and Steve Lamattina's Jazz for Svetlana, we have another disc of just duet music, trumpet and guitar (with a few vocals), and I needn't repeat my earlier assertion too loudly: this is not a pairing often heard, and for good reason…it's tough to maintain balance. Yet these guys do it admirably, and the key is not only Bob Arthurs' taking the brassy horn down a few notches but also his sensitivity to the narrative lines of each song as well as a care not to smother Lamattina's recessed but evocative rhythm/lead work.
Residing somewhere in a zone bridging Burrell, Beck, and Byrd (not to mention a bit of Szabo), Lamattina has no choice but to capture the rhythm section but does so precisely in a manner exposing the widest latitude of expression. The swing-bop guitarists were extraordinarily intelligent cats when it came to such things, and Lamattina, first a protégé of the esteemed Barry Gailbraith and later a member of Gailbraith's Jazz Guitar Ensemble, makes every note and chord count, nothing wasted, nothing over- or mis-emphasized. When Arthurs steps back for Steve to insert a lead, it erupts straight from his rhythm structures and then fades just a readily right back into them.
Arthurs also sings, and I swear to God I get a Sopranos vibe when I listen to his voice, the kind of guy you'd hear singing for an Italian wedding at a mob restaurant in Brooklyn: down home, familiar, and mellowed by a snifter or two of brandy. His trumpet playing's straight ahead but recalls old country refrains and niceties (that Italian vibe again!) as well as a mixture of Herb Alpert, early Miles, and maybe a touch of Maynard, whenever that wildman managed to hold himself somewhat in check. I suspect, though, that the earthy purity in his tone is what appealed to Svetlana Gorokhovitch, a classical pianist for whom the CD was recorded (her husband commissioned the musicians to create it as a unique birthday gift he could present to her 'cause she loves to hear these gentz play). And when I say 'purity', I'm not speaking of a Wynton Marsalis presence nor even a Herb Alpert mode but rather the exact kinda thing a working guy wants to hear after a hard day at work, relaxing into the selections, drinking them down like a good wine just before dinner, that kind of purity.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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