In the history of jazz there are many notable pairings of pianists with saxophonists (Duke Ellington and John Coltrane, Bill Evans and Stan Getz) but most, including the above mentioned, involve a rhythm section and are not strictly duets. Still, they are meetings of distinct musical personalities designed to draw out creative interplay as the musicians react to each other. "Crossing Paths," the title of the new album by saxophonist Alexa Tarantino and pianist Dariusz Terefenko, alludes to the potential in such a pairing. The album, consisting entirely of duets, fulfills that promise beautifully.
Tarantino got to know Terefenko while studying at the Eastman School of music where he teaches. Terefenko is well known for his Art Tatum-like brilliance at the keyboard, and over the years in the school's jazz ensembles, Tarantino's reputation for bold solos grew exponentially. (At last year's Jazz Festival, she blew the crowd away soloing with Earth, Wind & Fire.) On this CD, they interact wonderfully on standards like "In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning" and "Dolphin Dance." Both display a talent for composition, notably on Tarantino's gorgeous "Final Breaths" and Terefenko's playfully complex "It's You and Me." They also venture into the sort of classical-jazz hybrid one might expect from Eastman musicians with two wonderful arrangements of works by composer Alban Berg.