Paul Murphy and Larry Willis: The Powers Of Two, Volume 2
Paul Murphy, the legendary Jimmy Lyons, blazingly fast drummer, inspired this history-making session-and inspired depths in Larry Willis' piano you'll hear nowhere else. The music on Volume 1 focused on the boundary between jazz and classical. Volume 2 is all about melody and swinging and breathtaking drama of two masters composing with one mind. Fred Kaplan picked The Powers Of Two as one of his "Ten Best of The Year", and Volume 2 is even better!
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REVIEW by All About Jazz
Pianist Larry Willis has had an important and distinguished 40-year career in jazz, even if his name isn't as well known as it should be. Since making his recording debut on Jackie McLean's landmark 1965 album Right Now!, the New York-born Willis, who turns 66 this month, has played everything from free jazz to fusion to rock (he was a member of Blood, Sweat and Tears in the '70s), while performing as a valued sideman with such jazz titans as Dizzy Gillespie, Lee Morgan, Cannonball Adderley, Art Blakey and Woody Shaw.
Paul Murphy and Larry Willis
The Powers of Two, Vol. 2
Powers of Two, Vol. 2 is something else entirely, a set of free improvisations with Paul Murphy, a whirling dervish of a drummer noted for his long tenure with avant garde saxophonist Jimmy Lyons. It's an odd pairing on the surface - a mostly postbop pianist known for his subtlety and precision and a free jazz drummer known for his speed and intensity. Yet somehow it works. The two artists display a strong empathy with each rising to the challenge posed by the other; Willis turning up his volume and energy and Murphy showing (occasionally) a softer side. This is rather accessible improvised music, closer at times to Keith Jarrett than Cecil Taylor, owing mostly to Willis' strong sense of melody. While it's all completely improvised, Willis' solos are so well crafted they often sound like fully realized compositions. - Joel Roberts
REVIEW by Jazz Times
Nothing else sounds like a Mapleshade release. Producer/engineer Pierre Sprey records live to two-track analog, with minimal isolation and miking, and with no mixing board, compression or equalization. The objective sonic portrait, with two instruments overlaid in space, requires adjustment. The intricate timbres and intense dynamics of Larry Willis’ piano are startling. If Paul Murphy’s cymbals sound unfamiliar in their hiss and sizzle, it is because other recordings fail to capture these extreme upper harmonics. In such matters, Sprey is not wrong. The rest of the world is.
This is the second volume from a duo session of completely improvised music. On pieces like “Roadmap to Everywhere” and “Gremlins,” Willis’ expenditures of energy, like a man running very hard in place, fail to find a direction. Every performance contains nervous, experimental noodling, but some, like “Sweet Solitude,” provide the unique gratification of lyrical form discovered in the moment.
The revelation of this recording is Murphy. He is a drummer/sound painter who totally trusts his wildest creative impulses. He responds directly to Willis’ forays with a provocative, complex code of his own, then showers Willis’ piano decisions in washes of color and dramatic detail.
The liner notes state that Murphy’s next Mapleshade project will be a solo album. He is one of the very few drummers who might make that concept interesting -Thomas Conrad