Gene Harris/Jack McDuff: Down Home Blues

Combine the powers of two of the funkiest figures in jazz, and you have a keyboard summit that will rock your abode to its foundation. Recorded in late 1996, the union finds McDuff joining Harris’ working group at the time: bassist Luther Hughes, drummer Paul Humphrey, and guitarist Ron Eschet . And while vocalists Niki Harris (Gene’s daughter) and Curtis Stigers provide some crowd-pleasing moments during their respective guest spots, it’s the instrumental material that smokes, smolders, and burns most intensely.

The slow cooking “J&G Blues” features a lexicon of intense ivorywork, courtesy of its namesakes, while “Soft Winds” shuffles subtly and commences with a rousing solo by McDuff that opens the door for Harris. Over the course of the outing, both players primarily remain within the parameters of their assigned solo spaces; however, they joyously interact during “Cayenne Blues,” a hot, Latin-tinged number capped by a smoking series of fours. Throughout, guitarist Ron Eschet contributes plenty of spicy fretwork, adding a tangy seasoning to this soulful dish for the ears.