Jeff Rupert and pianist Richard
Drexler shine in all their radiant creativity on Imagination.Creating an
unmatched nimbleness of sound, though a stripped-down duet performance, the full
and wholesome interaction of their magical dialogue is immediately evident. The ebullient arpeggios and brilliantly gilded
glissandi played by Rupert mimic perfectly the melody lines of a singer, only
in this instance the saxophone, in all its hushed tones and rounded edges recall
the harkening of Lester Young and Stan Getz, as the brilliance of Rupert shines
forth. The pianism of Drexler, is on
full display.His impulse to adorn
simple melodies makes him an equal partner in this glorious musical exposition.
The relationship of interplay is immediate.It’s unlikely that you will be anything but
convinced of the unforgettable nature of this encounter for it is one that is
sure to bring great fame to this music all over again. Imagination
is, primarily, a collection of melodically exquisite songs, beautifully
crafted, with a combination of ingenious writing and inspired improvisation on
the part of both saxophonist and pianist. The vitality and brilliance of each
invention shines forth in the strongest and most appealing colors. The dynamic
range and balance between the instruments is achieved by each artist, never
seeming to tread on the other’s turf, which further demonstrates the respect and
conversational appeal of this duo. It’s
almost as if soloing is done in a series of highlights, the saxophone moves
into the spotlight while piano is in the shadows; then switching roles as if by
magic, so that the other instrumentalist is suddenly spotlighted.
The inspiration of course also comes from the memorable
repertoire the duet has chosen.Rupert’s playing is particularly exquisite in
the flowing tempo of “Snowfall” as the saxophonist sends up phrase after phrase
of delicate notes, which gently nudge Drexler into a rarefied realm of his own.
The quality of each artist’s playing is extraordinary, with both saxophone and
piano falling into characterful soloing seemingly at the drop of a hat.
Everything is played in a silken way; easy on the ears and
with the melody in mind.The ease of the
tunes played only lends itself to the mastery of each player and the
presentation. It is the curved edges of their playing that give the details in
a harmonically pleasing presentation, with just the right amount of rhythmic
attack thrown into the mix. Three outstanding examples of this invisible
passing of the torch take place on Tom Jobim’s “A Felicidade,” Jeff Rupert’s
Shakespearean ‘sonnet’, “My Mistress’ Eyes” and on the Mal Waldron classic “Soul
Rhythm, indeed, is strongly marked throughout, emphasizing
the unforgettable individuality of both Rupert and Drexler’s singular voices on
their instruments, while cohesively creating a group sound with only two
players.But take note, it is the spaces
along with the notes that lends itself to the overall achievement of pure subtlety, which can only be experienced
with breathless excitement on this one day classic, that has been beautifully
Tracks: Without a
Song; I can’t Help It; Snowfall; Strange Meadowlark; Imagination; A Felicidade;
My Mistress’ Eyes; Soul Eyes.
Rupert: tenor saxophone; Richard Drexler: piano.