In spring 2019 Sunnyside records released DARK BLUE, their long awaited follow up album. From avant blues to spontaneous improv pieces, from uncanny ballads that seem to channel Ben Webster and Archie Sheep into an alternate Sun Ra universe, from intricate bass clarinet & piano duets to a heartfelt solo baritone tribute to the late master Hamiet Bluiett, DARK BLUE represents a stunning document of two artists at their maturity, two old friends conversing in the language of modern jazz.
Back in 2002, an album quietly sneaked out on the CIMP label. It was a duet session by Romanian pianist Lucian Ban and Detroit-based baritone sax/bass clarinet player Alex Harding called Somethin’ Holy. It seemed like an unlikely combination (piano and baritone sax? a Detroiter and a Romanian?) but these two were on the same wavelength and the album that was released was a remarkable set of beautifully delineated duets, running the gamut from transcendent ballad playing to vibrant heated exchanges. The album took its cues from the music of Coltrane, Ellington (they included a lovely rendition of Ellington’s “Fleurette Africaine”), Randy Weston, Hamiet Blueitt, all players who even at their earthiest moments can bring out a spiritual ambience. So the title was not sent the message that this was a special session and was indeed Somthin’ Holy.
Over 15 years later, It seems like a different world. But in addition to their individual projects Ban and Harding have managed link up several times since. They’ve released several records with groups of varying sizes and approaches. Since then both have played Bop Shop Records but at different times. Ban played here in a duet with violist Matt Maneri back in fall of 2016. And Harding’s baritone has become a permanent fixture in Kahil El’Zabar’s Ethnic Heritage Ensemble, bringing a hefty bottom end to the band’s sound. They played a Bop Shop Records concert at Lovin’ Cup just this past February.
We’re happy to welcome them back to the store. This duet is a special union and it’s going to be a truly enjoyable night of varied and inspired music. You won’t want to miss it.