Melodic finesse? Rhythmic funk? An album likely to appeal to a cross-section of smooth and mainstream jazz tastes? You shouldn’t expect anything less from a recording that pairs guitar vets Stanley Jordan and Kevin Eubanks.
Yet for all the signature traits and sharply delineated interplay, the performances on Duets are too intricately devised, too colorfully woven, to be viewed merely as studies in contrast. Augmenting electric and acoustic guitars with keyboards, bass and vibes, Jordan and Eubanks opt for a richly textured sound, replete with contrapuntal designs and frequent shifts in mood, register and dynamics. For starters, “Morning Sun,” a ballad co-written by the guitarists, is ablaze with Jordan’s shimmering finger-tapped tones and warmly enhanced by Eubanks’ supple, blues-tinted touch. Pop and jazz classics-a nimble “Nature Boy,” a haunting “Blue in Green”-showcase what each of these guitarists (and sometimes pianists) does best, in tandem, so the arrangements aren’t marred by a numbing string of solos. Similarly, the original tunes and contemporary pop songs, especially Ellie Goulding’s “Lights,” benefit from the duo’s unwaveringly collaborative spirit.