May 2000

Kenny Wheeler/Brian Dickinson
Still Waters
Hornblower Recordings

Chemistry is the key to performance by a duo-particularly if the instruments involved are fluegelhorn and piano.
If you walked in on a gig by horn man Kenny Wheeler and pianist Brian Dickinson, you might think, "Damn, the bass player didn't show up." If you listen to any track on their new collaboration, Still Waters, you will not voice such concerns. The musical experience is complete; no element is missing. Wheeler's ideas and timbre are outstanding, and they receive instinctive support from Dickinson's keyboard.
Each track is carefully sculptured: four originals by Dickinson; five by Wheeler. Each tune seems more beautiful than the other does: gorgeous, expansive melodies with unexpected intervals; equally surprising harmonic patterns. To choose a favorite would be an exercise in futility. Not until the out chorus of the final cut, "Gentle Piece," is there a slight deviation from the format. Wheeler is suddenly "beside himself" with some meaningful, as opposed to flashy, overdubbing. Dickinson vamps on intros, setting the mood and pulse. But these guys are so fluid with time, who needed that bassist anyway?
You'd never know there is a generation gap between these Canadians. Their writing, phrasing and gap filling are so mutual in concept and execution, they seem to be joined at the hip. You know how "hip" is meant here, eh?

Originally published in May 2000

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