If one is to be completely honest, a piano and clarinet duo has the word "recital" creeping in the back of your mind and the connotation that comes with that would be totally out of place with this presentation from Eli Yamin and Evan Christopher.
A salute to not only their jazz heroes but a wonderful tribute to the improvisational music we have come to know as jazz. The clarinet would seem to be making a come back and Christopher ranks along side more recent players such as Eddie Daniels as a virtuoso performer with an amazing warmth and expressive intimacy that is often difficult to find with similar artists. Yamin is an accomplished educator, composer and performer whose imagination and artistic gifts have propelled him around the world as a cultural ambassador for U.S. Department of State. Even the Obama administration took notice of his impeccable talent for a command performance at the White House. To call this duo the real deal would be the classic undersell as they take a look at some eclectic rarities from some jazz pioneers including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Mary Lou Williams. Move talent to the back burner as the historical perspective here is as equally important as the music itself.
"Don't Go Back On Your Raisin'" is a beautiful composition painting melodic imagery with vivid colors from Evan Christopher and an emotionally gripping performance from Eli Yamin. "Azalea" continues the intimate almost zen like minimalism here with no wasted notes and an all most ethereal quality that transcends the original and allows this duo to embrace the tune as their own if only for a brief moment in time. "Impromptu" is a tune from Christopher that is dedicated to the late John Coltrane and here we have simplicity and complexity come together as one unified melodic presentation for the soul which is truly a beautiful thing.
The release Louie's Dream may best be described as jazz roots dusted off and unplugged with an organic riff that captures the essence of what Yamin and Christopher have to offer. A solid and surprising release that celebrates beautiful melodies while still managing to push the music forward with a delightful harmonic riff on the early days of jazz.
An incredibly well put together effort that will hopefully gain this dynamic duo the widespread recognition they so richly deserve.
Tracks: Louie's Dream; The Mooche; You Gotta Treat It Gentle; It's The Way You Talk; What's Your Story Morning Glory; Azalea; My Jazz Hero; Baraka 75; Let His Love Take Me Higher; Impromptu; Dancers In Love; Louie's Dream Reprise.
Personnel: Eli Yamin: piano; Evan Christopher: clarinet.
Special Thanks To Jim At Jazz Promo Services.