This very inspired duo — Harry on tenor, Ehud on piano — took the stage early on at Jazz at Chautauqua and left a deep impression. Although their play looks casual, they reach memorable heights — whether they are handling the twists and turns of PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ like a pair of gliding skiers, or turning SOME OTHER SPRING into a rueful ode.
Some duos are an exhibition of two very ego-driven selves who happen — sometimes under duress — to occupy the same space. Harry and Ehud listen seriously to each other, and their duo becomes more than the two men standing on a much larger stage. Ehud’s spikiness plays off Harry’s creamy tone; they complement rather than collide. A witty telepathy governs their interplay. Even the people trotting to and fro with full plates were grinning at what they were hearing.
For Mr. Berlin, Mr. Astaire, and Miss Rogers — ISN’T IT A LOVELY DAY? Who could say anything but “Yes”? Hear Harry’s purring, yearning sound; admire Ehud’s most sympathetic commentary: adding up to a lovely quiet seriousness with not one superfluous note:
Ehud loves James P. Johnson, and here the duo takes that lovely ballad IF IF COULD BE WITH YOU ONE HOUR TONIGHT (or “ONE HOUR” for those in a hurry) at a surprising clip — a young Bud Powell has entered the room. But there’s a sterling precedent for this kind of audacity: think of Bill Basie and his little band riding high on SHOE SHINE BOY in 1936. Midway through the exultant performance, you’ll have to remind yourself that this is a duo, not the Blue Note Jazzmen:
THE LITTLE THINGS THAT MEAN SO MUCH was the song Teddy Wilson used as the theme for his short-lived big band. And as Ehud says, it’s so true — not only for this kind of heartfelt chamber jazz, where every nuance counts — but as a life-motto:
PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ is virtuosic but never exhibitionistic:
And, to close, a sweetly sad SOME OTHER SPRING, with memories of Lady Day:
Jazz, stripped down to its essential selves, with no distractions!