(Drimala)

Most improvisations are intrinsically doomed to vanish, but what was created by Christi and Hassay in this session goes much further than the short distance of a vague reminiscence. This music can scream or sigh, most of all it pants while holding for dear life; Gary takes his alto sax away from a meditative line and puts it around a chain of melodic oddities, all the way through spinning phrases hovering like a bee intoxicated by the barbecue fumes of a garden party. Ellen has a commanding vocal authority that makes her able to choose the right path in every context; you get free-style stutterings, (Meredith) Monkish hommages and in general a display of genuine virtuosity going after new dialects rather than post-bebop littlenesses. Pursing their lips, staring each other, armed with a deep-rooted love for what they do, this couple conceived one of the best duets you can hope for, the greatness of which – if what I just wrote is not enough – is demonstrated by the three all-vocal beauties they dedicated to mouthpiece craftsman Jon Van Wie, really thrilling stuff in an already considerable album.

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