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JVC Jazz Festival

By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower

Guitar and Piano
Russell Malone/Benny Green Duets
Pat Martino/Jim Ridl Duets

315 West 44th Street, NYC
Gianni Valenti, Owner
Andy Kaufman, Business Manager
Tarik Osman, Manager

Publicity by Festival Productions
Charles Bourgeois, Director

June 24, 2003

The hot duo of Malone/Green gave us a combination of mellowness and musical madness, with lightning trills and surprises galore. Russell Malone (See Les Paul's 88th Birthday Review) starts an idea, and Benny Green expands it with a slightly dissonant edge. Their eyes are often on each other, as the music is so carefully woven, like a tapestry, guitar and piano, two combined leads or lead and accompaniment. This was an exciting musical conversation, with hints of Django Reinhardt styled melodies, but with deeper texture, a layered effect. Mr. Malone is an imposing presence onstage, and in Passport, a Charlie Parker tune, this remarkable duo ends on an exact and finely rehearsed point. Both Mr. Malone and Mr. Green carry themes in different counter-pointes, rhythms, and tonalities, but to the same dynamic potentials, like a train ride through the mountains, with dizzying spins. Love for Sale had a repetitious melody in a delicious cacophony of musical bravura.

In Bet'cha By Golly, Wow, the Malone/Green duo was sexy, romantic, and evocative, with the solo piano lead evolving into a lovely melody. In Wes Montgomery's Jingles, Mr. Malone's guitar effectively seduces the audience, with wild, potent rhythms and tantalizing chords. He held notes endlessly, sometimes until they disappeared in near silence. Mr. Green's piano solos were melancholy and moody, his eyes closed, as if by candlelight, a flickering flame. These were songs of love and wine, and an exquisite ambiance was created. The softly sensual piano leads were followed by equally intriguing guitar passages. At other times, this duo was highly charged, dynamic, and supremely hot. When they turned from sultry to an eclectic, complimentary style, with progressive fusion of rhythm and tone, they were inspirational, as they showcased their private musical ideas and seasoned charismatic communication.

The duo of Pat Martino and Jim Ridl has a totally different and more intellectual feel. Their sound is stretched to the outer ends of sound, more dissonant, more edgy. This is not a conversation, but a driven duo, who dramatically fuse sound for excitement and creative electricity. At times, there was a classical/jazz fusion, and at times the fusion generated a trance-like ambiance to the crowded Club. Mr. Martino and Mr. Ridl go to the edge of sound, from harmony to dissonance, but with universal appeal and interesting interpretations. With this duo, there is no small talk or historical allusions. This was a roller coaster of contemporary sound, a contrast to the interwoven sensuality and soft texture of the previous duo. There was no visual interplay with these two musicians. They forged ahead on experience and instinct. Their attentive ears replaced the need for mutual glances, and they landed on the same chords, with different rhythms, in Remembrance and Sun On My Hands. This duo was not about romance or melody, but, rather, about sharp, resonating, extended chords, perhaps a soul on fire.

Kudos to JVC Festival Productions for this wonderful event.

Russell Malone and Friends
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Jim Ridl and Pat Martino
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Russell Malone and Benny Green
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Ellen at the Door
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Roberta and Russell
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at