Paul Bley/Kresten Osgood

ILK 131 CD

More separates legendary Canadian expatriate pianist Paul Bley, 75, and Danish percussionist Kresten Osgood, 30, than the almost 45-year age-spread. Although the CD, recorded on one day this year in West Palm Beach, Fla. – hence the title – appears to be a duo session, only the three longest tunes feature both men. The rest showcase either Bley’s or Osgood’s solo strategies. Truth in packaging aside, the results are rather engaging.

Osgood has previously recorded with such older improvisers as saxophonists Sam Rivers and John Tchicai and was part of Manhattan-based Canadian saxophonist Michael Blake’s trio. With Bley he’s suitably diffident, sticking to brush-wiped rumbles, rim shots and pops plus cymbal resonation. This is especially apparent on “Arches”, where Bley moves from behind-the-beat phrasing in a theme that resembles Edith Piaf’s “Les Trio Cloches” to slyly accelerate the line as a swinging ballad. With a martial beat and ruffs as the introduction to “All The Things You Are”, the drummer’s emphasis leads the pianist to recast the overly familiar standard with passing chords and tremolo dynamics.

On his own, Bley’s dips into impressionism explain Keith Jarrett’s and Bill Evans’ stylistic origins, yet his repeated low-pitched key fanning, inside-piano string-stopping, half-speed note flurries and ringing runs confirm his individuality. Maturity is displayed through expected brevity and unexpected delicacy. Alone, Osgood’s minimalist strokes and bounces are equally descriptive on romantic and rhythm tunes. His most original statement is “True Blue and Gold” with the texture evidentially constructed from concussive patterns on reverberating gongs and tubular bell echoes.

— Ken Waxman

— For CODA Issue 335