“Guitar/bass duos are always a challenge, the more so when the partners play unplugged. A couple of microphones, no walls or isolation rooms, two musicians, two instruments, one double bass and a Martin-Flattop – nothing else in this meeting of two New York based musicians. One can hear how the music is being hand-made, the pick clacking on frets, fingers that slide over strings – plucky strum.
The plucker is Harvie S, a bassist with plenty of Duo- and guitarist-experience. The strummer is Sheryl Bailey, wantonly ignored Jazz-guitarist over here, professor at Berklee and teacher at Stanford. They both sound here like in a slightly bigger living room. And one can hear that Sheryl’s Martin is a completely different world than her electric guitars. The Flattop saves her from artistic fuss (for which Sheryl doesn’t care anyway). This guitar demands and gets nothing but sincerity, authenticity.
Six titles are her originals, four are his. Her “Woods talk” starts out still a little heavy handed, his “Bluesin F”, already smoother, reveals the overall direction: Subtleties in detail instead of dexterous show-off. “Ghost Dancer” begins with her powerful Solo-Intro, and Harvie seems to have found now definitely his part. Sheryl’s “S and S” presents a terrific Bebop, in unison and in the solos. Her “Broken Glass” comes out from her organ trio album “A Meeting of Minds”, and becomes here an interesting transplantation from electric to acoustic guitar. In Harvie’s “To Bea” the exquisite timing and the perfect rapport are fascinating; only here the Martin seems to appear a little too clumsy unfortunately. Sheryl’s Wyble-homage “For Jimmy” is a harmonic delicacy for which Harvie serves one of his top solos. His homage “Charlie Haden” is in no way inferior to the Wyble; in “Saint Nick” which is dedicated to Bailey’s friend, the bassist and vocalist Nicki Parrott, Bailey’s strumming accompaniment remains unforgettable and Harvie’s “Before”, written a day before 9/11 concludes with the most appealing theme of the program. A tete-a-tete in a special class. Five stars. At least.”
By: Alexander Schmitz