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F. Anderson & H. Bankhead - The Great Vision Concert

Lawrence Cosentino, Signal To Noise

"Are you ready? Some of you are always ready," cracks Vision Festival organizer Patricia Parker at the start of this magisterial duet set by tenor sax legend Fred Anderson and bassist Harrison Bankhead of Eight Bold Souls.
She's talking to the audience, but it's an apt motto for two masters who seem incapable of delivering anything less than their all, even under less than perfect conditions. (Bankhead was under the weather that night, but it only seems to fire him up more.)

You expect a sax-bass duet to have an intimate feel, but this one is only intimate in the acoustic sense. The musical rhetoric, by contrast, is anything but intimate. These men don't invite you, they accost you. Anderson never seems to run dry of declaratory statements – he bubbles up and dribbles back down the rocks like a steaming natural spring – and his extroverted hectoring brings out the preacher in Bankhead.

The tracks are long and episodic, encompassing unison arcs of melody, jackrabbit bebop runs, long walking passages, regroupings and spontaneous side trips. Anticipating who will follow whom, and how far, is part of the fun. They're like two of your favorite teachers, kicking back with a beer and laying out their view of the world, sticking to their own ideas, not trying hard to agree.
When, on occasion, they fall together into brief little shuffles and dance figures, the audience laps it up.