Personnel: Benny Green (piano); Russell Malone (guitar).
Recorded live at Jazz At The Bistro, St. Louis, Missouri on June 28 & 29, 2002.
Recorded over two nights in the terrific St. Louis night club Jazz at the Bistro, Benny Green and Russell Malone make the most of the opportunity. Although they had previously worked together, this is their first duo release. Although Green gets top billing on the CD, this is a true partnership, with both men soloing brilliantly, as well as providing outstanding supporting lines as accompanists. Their wide ranging program extends from old chestnuts ("Love Letters") to gems by Thelonious Monk (a lyrical "Ask Me Now"), Benny Carter (his timeless ballad "When Lights are Low"), Billy Taylor (a gently striding take of "A Bientot"), John Coltrane (a lively medley of "Moment's Notice" and "Lazy Bird"), Billy Strayhorn (two separate interpretations of his "The Intimacy of the Blues") and a delightful romp through Cannonball Adderley's "Wabash." What is most surprising is the imaginative treatment of two pop songs in medley form; the often nauseating "Killing Me Softly" is in good hands as a solo vehicle for Green, while Malone takes over for the Bee Gees' "How Deep is Your Love?," which isn't a jazz standard by any means, but the guitarist makes it work with a thoughtful solo improvisation. Each musician is also featured playing an original composition as a solo feature. Live jazz doesn't get much better than this disc. ~ Ken Dryden