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Paul Murphy & Larry Willis: Foundations

Drummer Paul Murphy and pianist Larry Willis together create music that is quite simply, hefty. Their recording, Foundations, testifies to their persistence in conveying significant improvised, though structured, messages through their musical language. The opening piano tremolos and bongo fluttering are gripping. They are repeated in the first and title track midst a relaxed lyricism that the piano unfolds. Throughout the album, a consistent pattern ensues of earthy juxtaposed to light, though never carefree, passages.

The tempos are generally quick. They seem to slow exclusively in the codas, with the exception of “Dance Pointe,” where Willis unwinds the melody gracefully. Willis’ strength manifests in the way he shifts continually in and out of melodic phrasings, sometimes dissonantly, but utilizing the entire keyboard. He artfully balances his use of chords and fingered abstractions. “Paean” is an extraordinary example of a synchronized, double handed thematic development.

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