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Johnny Griffin/Horace Parlan: Close Your Eyes

Johnny Griffin and Horace Parlan’s Close Your Eyes (Minor) reflects an entirely different slant on the piano and saxophone duo. The musical association of these two veterans (Griffin was 71 and Parlan 69 at the time) goes back to the early 1960s, and their reunion here represents consolidation rather than innovation. They chose popular and jazz standards to play and approached them in a conventional manner. Typically, Griffin plays the melodies with piano accompaniment, then Griffin solos, still accompanied by the piano, after which Parlan solos and they take the tunes out together. Throughout, Griffin is in fine form. In spots he reminds the listener that he was once called the world’s fastest tenor, but for the most part his work here is more reflective and melodic, although ever-mindful of the beat. Parlan, on the other hand, is more given to a somewhat rubato sense of time in his solos. That works better on the slow tunes than on the faster ones, where a swinging, steady tempo might be expected. Sometimes in those instances, Griffin provides a subtle accompaniment of his own, which helps keep things moving apace.

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