David Haney & Julian Priester: Live At Earshot Jazz Festival

Piano and trombone duo produce contemplative, apparently ego-free free improvisations that occasionally hint at melody


The Earshot Festival is a well-established annual event in and around the Seattle area, which encourages such encounters as we have here. Both musicians are well versed in the art of instant composition – or the more commonly used tag, “free improvisation”.

Haney has worked with the likes of Bud Shank but over the years he has been more likely to have been heard in the company of cutting-edge musicians such as John Tchicai, Han Bennink, Andrew Cyrille and Perry Robinson. Priester of course made his name as part of the Blue Note repertory company, starting his career on the Chicago R&B scene and gravitating to membership of the Sun Ra band.

Given their joint experiences, the duo were certainly primed for the stark, “no hiding places” presentation they delivered back in 2010. It takes a mainly contemplative stance, every moment seemingly considered and ego / self-indulgence far from the surface. Neither musician is afraid to hang on to a phrase or statement, even hinting at a melody from time to time, with a total appreciation of where the other is coming from.

Priester very rarely strays from the natural tone of his instrument, spinning out lines in response to his partner’s often quite truncated forays. The pianist is also said to use mallets, a glass bottle and elbows for this recording, although these extraneous additions only make brief contributions.

The release is available via Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon – an appealing option for listeners with wide open ears.

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Haney (p); Priester (tb). Seattle, Washington, October 2010.
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