Oliver Gannon & Bill Coon – Two Much More! – CellarLive CL011815, 58:34 ****:
(Oliver Gannon – guitar/left channel; Bill Coon – guitar/right channel; Darren Radtke – acoustic bass; Dave Robbins – drums)
In 1990, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson starred in a potboiler movie entitled A Pair Of Aces, and more recently authors Joe R. Lansdale and Neal Barrett Jr. wrote a collection of novellas and screenplays also entitled A Pair Of Aces. To date then, this turn of phrase has not been used to describe a jazz album, but it does seem apropos of this release from guitarists Oliver Gannon and Bill Coon although the title is Two Much More!
For some inexplicable reason, there seems to have been a plethora of standout guitarists that have come from Canada – including the likes of Ed Bickert, Sonny Greenwich, Reg Schwager, Lorne Lofsky, Peter Leitch and a transplanted American Lenny Breau. Gannon and Boon follow in this tradition without missing a guitar pick. Working from a set list that is for the most part well-known standards, with several originals offered as balance, the band plays with thoughtful acuteness.
Opening the session with an Oliver Gannon original appropriately entitled “Sassy”, which is based on the chord changes from George Gershwin’s S’Wonderful, swings along in smart fashion with both Gannon and Coon showing crisp acumen on their instruments. Johnny Mandel and Johnny Mercer wrote “Emily” as the title tune for the 1964 movie The Americanization of Emily starring Julie Andrews and James Garner. The two guitarists take the tune at a leisurely pace with all the necessary inflections to provide the number its expressiveness. Bassist Darren Radkte is also given some solo space to show his big tone.
Duke Ellington was a composer whose writing was loved and appreciated by other jazz musicians, primarily due to the structure and harmonic melody lines of the compositions. Gannon and Coon show their affection for the music with three tunes, “All Too Soon”, “Just A Lucky So And So”, and “In A Sentimental Mood”. For good measure they threw in an Ellington associated number “Chelsea Bridge” by Billy Strayhorn. These fleet-fingered guitarists ensure that these gems are unfalteringly rendered and are filled with the finely drawn colours that the composers’ intended.
“Moanin’” by Bobby Timmons closes the session out much as it began with an up-tempo swinger that is all swagger and bravado, that confirms the no-nonsense style of the band lead by the two guitarists.
TrackList: Sassy; Emily; Blues For OG; Tones For St.Joan; All Too Soon; Just Lucky So And So; Broadway; In A Sentimental Mood; The End Of A Love Affair; Chelsea Bridge; Moanin’