Billy Bang/Dennis Charles: Bangception Willisau 1982

Recorded live at Jazz Festival Willisau in 1982, the Charles/Bang duo performs Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman,” and Thelonious Monk’ s “Thelonious” is a feature for Charles’ soloing. Other works are by Bang, Bang and Charles and Bilal A. Rahman. Charles is no junior partner here. In addition to having “Thelonious” to himself, he and Bang often engage in exchanges and dialogues. Charles does not function primarily as an accompanist.

On his first recordings with Cecil Taylor in the 1950s, Charles’ prima influence was Art Blakey. By ’82 he’d become a more original stylist, but Blakey’s mark is still apparent in his thunderous playing. He’s disciplined, though; note the sense of pacing and development during his solos.

Bang, a colorful improviser, uses glissandi, trills, double stops and upper register screams. His tone is fuller and he’s got a heavier vibrato than most jazz violinists. He’s often thought of as a slashing player, and much of his work on this CD justifies this impression. But dig his warm, romantic work on “Lonely Woman,” one of the most unique and moving versions of the composition ever recorded.