Multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee and Norwegian bassist Ingebrigt Haker Flaten have been collaborating for the better part of a decade, chiefly through McPhee’s work with Flaten’s agro-jazz trio The Thing. Their second duo release is a far more restrained affair, full of loosely sketched melodic information rather than sonic carpet-bombing.
The album pays tribute to Brooklyn, and while the improvised tunes were named in retrospect, they’re evocative nonetheless. If you listen closely, the influence of longtime resident Dewey Redman, Sonny Rollins’ days shedding on the bridge, and the funkier, less-harried feel of the borough in comparison to neighboring Manhattan are easy to find in the titles and the music. McPhee sticks with alto for most of the session, though the highlight is arguably “Enoragt Maeckt Haght,” where he coaxes a bracingly broad sound from his pocket trumpet. Between his slithering, breathy blasts and Flaten’s frantic bowing, the piece moves with a streamlined, reptilian velocity.
Flaten is an agile reactor, and largely allows McPhee to take the lead, tempering darting, flickering alto lines with robust rhythms and bolstering sputtering trumpet bursts with agitated rumblings. The pair never ventures down roads that seem unfamiliar to them (or to ears familiar with their work), but this is an amiable outing akin to eavesdropping on a casual afternoon’s conversation.