The guitar duo in Jazz has been a tried and true format since the early days of Lonnie Johnson & Eddie Lang. Over the years there have been some very exciting pairings such as George Barnes/Carl Kress, Joe Pass/Herb Ellis, Larry Coryell/Emily Remler, Steve Khan/Larry Coryell, John Scofield/Pat Metheny, and of course Ralph Towner/John Abercrombie to name but a few. Well, we can now add another guitar duo to the list: Montreal’s own Carlos Jiménez & Michel Héroux. Two superb guitarists who blend Jazz, a smattering of Classical, a touch of Brazilian, and a little Folk into a wide simpatico of sound and taste.
On Voices, their first release as a duo, Carlos and Michel create a pleasing unity of tonal colors by utilizing the distinctive timbre of both acoustic and electric guitars in a blend that is seemingly organic and personality driven (musically speaking that is). Carlos, for example, seems to favor the acoustic – whether nylon string or steel string – a little more on this recording, although he does reach for the electric on about three or four tunes. Michel appears to do the reverse, playing more electric but coming in on acoustic when the tune calls for it. However the blend, both players appear quite proficient on whatever instrument they play on, providing a wide tonal range of color and variety.
In fact, color and variety seem to be the key elements associated with Voices as Carlos and Michel showcase a diversity of styles legitimately played by all. There’s the bouncy Brazilian and Samba rhythms of “Atraves do Tempo” and “Samba” respectively; the bluesy call and response of “Blues for Jim”; the Boppish “Luna” and “Please Stay on the Line” (via the changes to “All The Things You Are”); the hauntingly beautiful “Waltz for Kenny”; the swing of “Bobby; the moodiness of “Azul” and “Sob”; and the lightness of “No Title Yet”. It is this variety of expression and feeling that makes this album a joy to listen to.
Stylistically, I find this album a tad more reminiscent of a Ralph Towner/John Abercrombie listening experience rather than the more traditional Joe Pass/Herb Ellis duo set, although there is some of that as heard on “Blues for Jim”, “Luna” and “Please Stay on the Line”. Once again it comes down to the variety of instrumentation and musical styles represented, both in the compositional development as well as the improvisational approach taken by each player. Whether it’s full out Bop, or a more contemplative conversation between Carlos and Michel, it becomes apparent that the diverse musicality of these players cannot be contained by any one musical style over another, which benefits Voices greatly!
Oh…and just for the record, Carlos and Michel can play their a**es off! 🙂
So, if you’re a student of Jazz Guitar or looking to expand your CD collection, give Voices a listen. I think you’ll dig it!