Again and again, they are critisized, bands that came together not of their own accord but on account of producers or concert organizers and event managers. Yet jazz history owes some of its most thrilling recordings to exactly this circumstance; the engagement of a third party who made it possible for musicians to leave their own beaten tracks and try out something unexpectedly new. This duo, comprising the old French master of modern saxophone playing, Francois Jeanneau and his pianist and partner Uli Lenz, sixteen years younger, owes its existence to the Goethe Institute in Pakistan, which had been on the look out for an appropriate French partner to go on tour with the German virtuoso on piano. And so something that both musicians had not expected became a reality; a duo was born, that despite all their differences, in its density and in their mutual prevalence, is reminiscent of that unique recording of the Steve Lacy/Mal Waldron Trio.
In this formation, Jeanneau plays only, exclusively, his soprano instrument. Even before Coltrane and Lacy, in his younger days, Jeanneau listened to Sidney Bechet – and so his playing is informed most of all by a clear, elegant performance of melodic lines, despite all his ‘new jazz’ experience. Uli Lenz, often a ‘power player’, full of the frank admiration for McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones, is a virtuoso partner with equal rights, underlining with sensitive rhythmic and harmonic accompaniment.
In the ‘A-Trane’ in Berlin, ‘Deutschland Radio’ came and listened to a performance a bit over two years ago. It has recorded a captivating recital, the tension mounting without slackening throughout its entirety, while the subtlety of the dialogue – as is impressively to be heard on this CD - leaves the audience speechless. This is truly the ‘Art of the Duo’.
The original recension in German can be found under www.rondomagazin.de.
Translated by Aparajita Koch