Eddie Gomez and Mark Kramer: Art of the Heart

Art of the Heart is a bass-and-piano duo album-in that order because Eddie Gomez’ role is prominent. Most of the themes are stated by Gomez, usually arco, and most often he takes the first solo, usually pizzicato. But duo albums require two strong voices and a special relationship between them. Mark Kramer is not well known outside his home base of Philadelphia, but he plays clear, firm, graceful lines that complete with Gomez’s deep ideas and bring this project to life.

What this project is about is unabashed romanticism. But the duo’s versions of “Hello Young Lovers,” “Chances Are” and “I’ll Be Seeing You,” while fervent, are dry-eyed. Gomez’ bowed bass sings the yearning melodies with an austere purity that precludes sentimentality. Kramer’s right hand finds luminous, chiming responses, but his interesting harmonies and intelligent, spare elaborations communicate disciplined emotion. The end of “Smile” is representative: Gomez drops off and Kramer meticulously finds, one at a time, all the notes of Charlie Chaplin’s theme, places them in stark relief and then lets them die away.

This record will melt hard-hearted women and turn cold fishes into lover-boys.