Chemistry is the key to performance by a duo – particularly if the instruments are flugelhorn and piano.
If you walked in on a gig by horn man Kenny Wheeler and pianist Brian Dickinson, you might think, “Damn, the bass player didn’t show up.” If you listen to any track on their new collaboration, Still Waters, you will not voice such concerns. The musical experience is complete; no element is missing. Wheeler’s ideas and timbre are outstanding, and they receive instinctive support from Dickinson’s keyboard.
Each track is carefully sculptured: four originals by Dickinson; five by Wheeler. Each tune seems more beautiful than the other one does: gorgeous, expansive melodies with unexpected intervals; equally surprising harmonic patterns. To choose a favorite would be an exercise in futility. Not until the out chorus of the final cut, “Gentle Piece,” is there a slight deviation from the format. Wheeler is suddenly “beside himself” with some meaningful, as opposed to flashy, overdubbing. Dickinson vamps on intros, setting the mood and pulse. But these guys are so fluid with time, who needed that bassist anyway?
You’d never know that there is a generation gap between these two Canadians. Their writing, phrasing, and gap filling are so mutual in concept and execution, they seem to be joined at the hip. You know how “hip” here is meant, eh?
Harvey Siders, JazzTimes
The art on the cover immediately brings to mind Monet, and the serene music inside fulfills the impression. Dickinson on piano creates beautiful pools of sound, and Wheeler on trumpet graces the moving surfaces with light and colour. Some of the titles refer directly to nature: “Still Waters,” “Winter Suite,” “Spring Sprung In,” and “Springs Eternal.” Others evoke a warm humanism: “Kind Folk,” “Remembrance for MP,” “Gentle Piece.” The pervading mood is very calm, yet the music is always fresh and flowing. This is a gorgeous, happy, vibrant record by master musicians.
Brian Rutz, Planet Jazz
With fellow Canadian Dickinson attentive at the piano, Wheeler’s distinctive flugelhorn sounds still more eloquent. The music on Still Waters is graceful and beautifully balanced, technically accomplished and pervaded by controlled emotion.
Julian Cowley, The Wire