Two complementary musicians with distinct approaches to career “rendezvous in a Manhattan apartment” and record spontaneous arrangements of American Songbook material. Grand piano and snare with brushes, simplicity, and possibility.
Bryan Reeder is a pianist, composer, and graduate of the Manhattan School of Music. He writes, arranges and records for film, big bands, orchestras, and small ensembles. He is both a bandleader and a member of several bands, and his work in the realms of jazz, classical and contemporary music has brought him to a diverse array of stages. He recorded piano and harpsichord for tubist Dan Peck’s Baroque album 1685. Closer to the heart of this paper his appreciation of classic jazz led him to play in Glen Crytzer’s groups. A quick search of Youtube reveals him with a number of other classic jazz groups as well as prior pairings with his interlocutor here, Dag Markhus.
Markhus has a different approach to his music. While Reeder’s search for art leads him to branch out, Markhus has on his website the maxim, “The cannon shoots far because it doesn’t scatter its fire.” It was his love of the swing of classic jazz that brought him from Norway to Julliard and kept him on in New York City after he graduated in 2014.
He’s performed with Bucky Pizzarelli and Barbara Carroll and despite some other projects including a modern classical work he’s focused on American Songbook and Tin Pan Alley material. A percussionist specializing in the brush and snare he uses on this album, Markhus is a founding member of the Konrad Paszkudzki Trio which has released a slew of recordings spotlighting individual Songbook composers.
The approach of the Konrad Paszkudzki Trio, and the approach of the duo on this album does not look back but rather continues classic jazz. These are extremely gifted musicians and recent graduates of prestigious music programs not known for their encouragement of pre-bop playing. I find the most refreshing thing about their collaboration is that they are not attempting to recapture but instead exploring the inherent potential ever-present in a living form and within timeless material. The album has the feel of the dorm room jam you wish you’d caught on tape.
Markhus keeps a tightly focused but playful rhythm on numbers like “Fine and Dandy”, “Tea For Two”, “Fidgety Feet”, and “Button up your Overcoat.” Reeder builds a mighty drive with the left hand and freely improvs with the right. They go as far from the source together as the spirit takes them, finding the path without arrangements. The more familiar the melody the more fun they have with it, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” wasn’t the best cut on the album but it made me laugh out loud. It’s joyous and spontaneous jazz made by two friends on a whim, and now available to us.