Mike Murley/David Occhipinti
Cornerstone Records CRST CD 121
www.mikemurley.com; www.davidocchipinti.com

Reviewed by John Kelman
for Planet Jazz Magazine (winter– 2003-04)

Metalwood saxophonist Mike Murley teams up with guitarist/composer David Occhipinti for a program of standards and originals that are a diversion from the intensity of their other projects. After playing together as a duo since 1999, there is a strong chemistry developing, and a sense of adventure that raises the bar for chamber jazz recordings.

Occhipinti’s sense of space brings to mind Jim Hall. Like Hall, the acoustic sound of his guitar underlies the warm electric tone. While employing a warm, clean sound, his use of stereo panning on Murley’s "Nest of the Loon" creates an ambience that is rich and seductive.

Murley displays facility and consummate taste, showing why he continues to be in such high demand on both sides of the border. "Minas Mist" brings to mind Dexter Gordon at his most lyrical.

Dispelling the preconception that this is strictly an impressionistic affair, their reading of Charlie Parker’s "Segment" shows that a guitar-sax duo can swing with the best of them. Without a rhythm section the interplay manages to imply what is not there. Occhipinti takes a solo that would have made Joe Pass proud.

Recorded with a minimum of overdubs, the exception is "Prairie," where acoustic guitar drives an 11/8 groove that is fleshed out with a number of electric guitar textures, creating a broad sense of space. Murley’s soprano solo has a haunting desolation that puts you right in the middle of the wheat fields.

The album closes with Bernstein’s "Some Other Time," a serene, lyrical and optimistic piece that leaves us with the hope that this is but the first of many fine duo records from Murley and Occhipinti.

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