NICK SANDERS & LOGAN STROSAHL – JANUS

November 16, 2016
Nick Sanders: piano; Logan Strosahl: tenor and alto saxophones.
Pianist Nick Sanders and saxophonist Logan Strosahl have more than a decade playing together and the unwavering chemistry they’ve gained throughout the years can be heard in Janus, an album that embraces originals and inventive renditions in a wide range of styles.

The modern lyricism of Sanders’s “Sigma”, the opening tune, had a character of Mega Man video game series as inspiration. It sets a combination of flowing piano instrumentations and wondrous saxophone melodies, evoking the Jarrett-Garbarek approach of the 70s. Enchanting rhythmic variations gain even more purpose when Strosahl injects a salutary irreverence while improvising.

Strosahl’s cantabile Baroque piece “Allemande” and “Mazurka”, a lucid waltz, bring classical discernment to the table, yet differing from Machaut’s “Rose, Liz, Printemps, Verdure”, a pastoral 14th-Century composition that invites us to a stroll in bucolic sceneries.

The versatile duo effortlessly incurs into jazz in its traditional and contemporary forms. If “Thelonious” wakes up our senses with the most emblematic musical features of Monk and “Be Bop Tune” does justice to its title, then the passionate “Old Folks” and the pacific “Stardust” unblinkingly flow through the power of its chord progressions, assuming their jazz-standard natures.

In the title track, a noteworthy composition that relies on impressive interactions, they opt to entwine the fluidity of the bebop language with more abstract short sections. An enviable cohesiveness is found as we indulge ourselves in rhythmic motifs and super attractive swinging streams built from the agility of Sanders’ left hand.

Bursting with color and exhibiting a great musical unity, Olivier Messiaen’s “Vingt Regards Sur L’Enfant Jesus”, is an incredible, expansive, and voluble exercise that instantly captivates, triggering the eruption of multiple emotions and sensations.

The recurrent voyages into the past offered in Janus don’t hamper it from moving in an appealing contemporary current that fills our ears with flawless technique and modern refinement. Intellectually stimulating, this past/present accomplishment unveils a duo of enormous quality.