Thursday, March 16, 2006

Dave and Larry Koonse: Dialogues of the Heart

Jazz Compass
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 3.16.06
Buy CD: Dialogues of the Heart

This is the first CD I've reviewed from Jazz Compass, another small studio that has appeared on the scene in recent years. As is true of the Sea Breeze label, this company features musicians and groups that are well known in the jazz fraternity but relatively unknown to the public. 

Dialogues of the Heart features guitar duets by Dave Koonse and his son, Larry, and it's one of the tastiest jazz guitar records I've ever heard. Since Larry was taught by his father, it's almost impossible to tell who is playing a particular solo passage, and the ensemble work is just gorgeous. Their techniques are flawless — it's like listening to two Earl Klughs playing jazz — and the studio work borders on perfection. 

The album features arrangements of lesser-known standards such as "Beautiful Love," "Like Someone in Love," "Summer Nights" and "You Must Believe in Spring." "Isfahan" is an almost unknown Duke Ellington tune, arranged by Billy Strayhorn. 

"Jazz Passacaglia" is a beautiful, almost classical little tune written by Larry Koonse. "Everything I Love" is a relatively unknown ballad by Cole Porter, while "Django" is one of the wonderful jazz lines written by John Lewis, of Modern Jazz Quartet fame. Both the final two selections — "Minority" and "Young and Foolish" — are performed beautifully, as is true of everything else on this album. 

It's all jazz in its purest form, and it even swings. Guitar fans will love this CD. 

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