Small Constructions

Small Constructions

Today it’s a given that most young jazz players are comfortable playing a variety of musical styles, from classical and electric fusion to traditional regional folk and rock. That's true with jazz keyboardist Dan Tepfer (whose last duo album was with Lee Konitz in 2009) and horn player Ben Wendel of the jazz-rock band Kneebody. Here they go all over the map, playing as a duo but often adding tasteful overdubs. We get majestic originals that show a strong sense of melody, like Tepfer’s “Gratitude” and Wendel’s insistent “Still Play.” Letting their roots show, they also offer unique versions of Thelonious Monk’s “Pannonica” and “Ask Me Now,” a near-manic version of Lennie Tristano’s “Line Up,” and an elegant version of Handel’s “Variation 1 in D Minor.” (Both musicians’ mothers were opera singers, and both studied classical music early on.) Comfortable with each other as well as with the myriad styles they tackle here, this duo has an undeniable chemistry; hopefully they’ll get back together soon to continue this conversation.

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