Like Nowell, this is the third release on Posi-Tone for the duo of Ken Fowser (tenor saxophone) and Behn Gillece(vibraphone). Aptly titled “Duotone“, this is also their third release that features a different rhythm section. For this collection of 10 originals (all but 2 by Gillece), bassistDavid Wong, drummer Willie Jones III and pianist Donald Vega get to lay down the grooves. In many ways, this music reminds of the Harold Land-Bobby Hutcherson group from the late 1960s into the 70s. Nothing is forced, nothing phony, just smart melodies and chord patterns for the various soloists to play with. Peruvian-born pianist Vega is solid throughout offering up excellent background and several fine solos, especially on “Attachment” when he starts way down on the left side and rambles up the keys. His rubato opening to “Spontaneity” with harp-like glissandos, sets the tone for the handsome piece. The blend of piano and vibes do not always work but Vega and Gillece complement each other in so many ways. Fowser’s tenor is quite musical; his solos tend to be built off the melody lines and he never forces the pace. “One for G” is a perfect example of his bluesy style, reminiscent at times of Hank Mobley. That does not mean the music is tame. The fire created by Wong and Jones III on the hardbop opener “Overcooked” and the hard-edged “Back to Back” is impressive; Gillece and Vega really dig deep and let loose on the latter track.
“Duotone” is pleasantly unpretentious music, truly joyous bop at its best. Fowser and Gillece, as well as their excellent rhythm section, are always in sync – no one attempts to steal the spotlight.