Rich Perry & Harold Danko : Rhapsody

Tenor saxophonist Perry and pianist Danko go back to the late 1970s together, when they were members of the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra. They have recorded together often since then, and their rapport is evident again throughout this album of duets. Focusing on American popular song, with a couple of jazz standards added, they spin solos full of intriguing subtlety and personal vocabulary.

Perry’s warm tone, odd rhythmic twists and outside notes suggest Wayne Marsh, Richie Kamuca and Bill Perkins. Danko’s chord voicings and wiry, independent lines suggest a distillation of Bill Evans. But these references are simply part of the background from which Perry and Danko have established their own identities.

Songbook favorites such as “I Hear a Rhapsody,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Beautiful Love” and “Yesterdays” are the kind of moody material their tones seem designed (or destined) for. Tadd Dameron’s “Soultrane” and John Coltrane’s “Central Park West” fit perfectly in this atmosphere.

Perry and Danko make lyrical work of these performances, far from run-and-gun technical displays. As an accompanist, Danko never intrudes on Perry’s lines; his support is more like opening up possibilities. This is a lovely album.