Shadow Classic: Dynamic Duo by George Coleman and Tete Montoliu

“Sophisticated Lady,” from Dynamic Duo, George Coleman and Tete Montoliu

 When jazz musicians play duets, it’s common to hear critics and insiders marvel at how the two players seem to “finish each other’s sentences.” The implication is that there’s a shared wavelength, and once the musicians find it, they converse as though in a telepathic mind-meld, answering aptness with aptness.

The reality can be less romantic – among even master players, there are frequently divergent ideas about tempo and mood and pace, as well as the general uneasiness that comes with the establishment of “rapport.” The masters of the duo setting – among them the enduring tandem of saxophonist Steve Lacy and pianist Mal Waldron – appear inclined, at every moment, to fumble and veer, change direction in mid-stream, relinquish control and follow as their cohort swerves into a new lane.

That openness is audible on this wonderful version of “Sophisticated Lady” from Dynamic Duo, a 1977 meeting between tenor saxophonist George Coleman and pianist Tete Montoliu. The two linger over the elegant slopes of Ellington’s melody, settling into tempo and then floating freely away from it. They sometimes finish each other’s thoughts, but more often, they start them – with little melodic gestures like firefly sparks, that at least once or twice swell up into unexpected full-blown bonfires.

Check it out: