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Bob Sneider/Paul Hoffman: Interconnection

It’s very easy for the members of guitar-piano duos to get in each other’s harmonic way. Most longtime jazz fans will remember that Jim Hall and Bill Evans were able to deal with this difficulty, but players without their harmonic acumen, telepathic powers and preternatural talent have to find other means. On Interconnection (Sons of Sound), guitarist Bob Sneider and pianist Paul Hofmann also manage to mesh quite well, but they do it by clinging very closely to a prearranged script. It is as if they approached this tricky situation of one guitar and one piano like a calculus project.

Interconnection is expertly played-Sneider and Hofmann always hit their cues and they really nail all the unison passages-but they leave little room for tension or risk. Hearing them play together, you can almost follow along with their crib sheet, with all the “you play here, I play there and then this figure” business. Also, the recording goes on far too long-they’ve maxed out the CD with a full 70 minutes-and before long, hearing Sneider and Hofmann return to their pet strategies gets old. Sneider does show his quirks here and there, as on Hofmann’s “A Place to Hide,” where he suddenly, uncharacteristically scrapes his pick across muted strings. But gestures like these are just blips in a sea of arpeggiated chords and formal blues.

Originally Published