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Jiggs Whigham & Wolfgang Köhler: Two Too

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Duologues are always fascinating. They’re transparent enough to reveal the technique of both participants and how well they listen to each other. Trombonist Whigham and pianist Köhler are amazingly supportive to each other’s licks, never stepping on each other’s chops. Each has the ultimate freedom to improvise, and in this format the execution is so uncluttered and individual ideas are developed with such precision that it sounds as if all the improvisation has been painstakingly arranged.

Whigham’s tone is a thing of beauty in any register, and he seldom feels the need for vibrato or tailgating. He never utters a raucous wail. Check the warmth of his playing on “We’ll Be Together Again” and J.J. Johnson’s “Lament.” As for his musical sense of humor, he interpolates “Saint Martin” and “Salt Peanuts” during “Days of Wine and Roses.” Köhler seldom feels the need for stride when he solos or a walking bass line under Jiggs’ solos. Köhler’s intro to “We’ll Be” is pure poetry. His solo track is a welcome exploration of Bix’s Debussy-inspired “In a Mist.”

“Days,” the album highlight, again finds the duo exchanging fours, which evolves into an intense, 16-bar counterpoint over not only implied pulse, but implied harmony.