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Phillip Strange: In the Moment

Phillip Strange’s two bases of operation have been Florida (where he earned a D.M.A. degree from the University of Miami and jammed with all the best players on the Florida scene, like Ira Sullivan) and Japan (where he lives half the year). In the Moment is a duo recording with longtime associate Larry Marshall. Strange and Marshall did not prepare pieces for this session in advance but opened up spontaneous musical dialogue in the studio, occasionally arriving at well-known standards.

There is an inward, thoughtful, experimental quality to this music that makes it sound like the musicians are playing for themselves. But Strange is technically accomplished and intuitive, and Marshall has assertive ideas of his own, so it is interesting to eavesdrop on them. The variety here is startling. The instrumentation provides Strange great freedom in modulation potential and harmony and texture, while Marshall can whisper or thunder. “Take Five” and “I Remember You” contain huge transformative dynamic swings.

There is an intellectual, academic bias to some of the duo’s investigations, but they are also capable of an act of the imagination like “Someday My Prince Will Come,” a wild, disparate collage full of love for the song.

Phillip Strange is a highly intelligent, adventuresome pianist who bears watching.

Originally Published