Live in Concert: Moment to Moment
David Samuels is best known for his work with Spyro Gyra and the Caribbean Jazz Project, but his lesser-known relationship of over 30 years with fellow mallet percussionist David Friedman should not be overlooked. Their co-led Double Image released its first recording (titled Double Image) in 1977, as a quartet. For this live 2006 performance at StageOne in Fairfield, Conn., they performed as a duo. This is an exceptional CD, and not just for the playing: engineers Carlos and Jonathan Dias must be praised for the incredible sound quality as well.
Friedman plays vibes on most of the nine tracks, while Samuels plays marimba, and they reverse instruments on the others, making it easy for the listener to tell them apart. Most of the pieces share a mellow or pensive quality on the surface, but they shimmer and shine with a subtle intensity that is riveting. Friedman and Samuels’ weaving contrapuntal lines, ostinato figures and trills all mesh extremely well, and they develop each tune with a certain logic and seeming inevitability. Their melodic, emotionally expressive improvisations, and creative percussive and rhythmic variations are a joy to hear.
Highlights include “White Russian,” with its hint of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” Jobim’s classic “O Grande Amor” is interpreted brilliantly. “Moment to Moment” is an assured, naturally progressing spontaneous improvisation. “A Night in Tunisia” is taken refreshingly slow, adding a mysterious and anticipatory air. “Under the Dolphin” is their original take of “On Green Dolphin Street,” teasing and altering the melody and harmony with rejuvenating effect. Freddie Hubbard’s “Up Jumped Spring” is also slowed to enhance the melody’s beauty, and the duo’s astonishing rapport is on full display here.
Remember that great concert you wished had been recorded for posterity? Well, this is it.