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The sound of two

Daniel Cano is a Spanish trumpeter who was born in Huelva in 1983 and has lived in London since 2014. Doug Sides is an American drummer who was born in Los Angeles in 1942, moved to Europe in 1989 and now lives, improbably enough, in Ramsgate, a fishing and ferry port on the eastern tip of Kent. This week they released a four-track digital EP called Duplexity.

It slots into the modern tradition of trumpet-and-drums duets stretching back to Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell, taking in Bobby Bradford and John Stevens and going all the way to Eyebrow, the contemporary Bristol-based pair of Pete Judge and Paul Wigens. If it reminds me of anything, it’s of the best parts of the duo concert by Max Roach and Dizzy Gillespie at the Maison de la Culture de Seine Saint-Denis, released as Max + Dizzy: Paris 1989 by A&M. That’s an album which came a little too late in the careers of two great men, making you wish they’d done it 30 or 40 years earlier, when the fires were burning brightest. Duplexity, by contrast, seems to have been made at exactly the right time.

Cano, whose involvements as a leader and a sideman include membership of the London Improvisers Orchestra, studied at the conservatoire in San Sebastián. His groups — including an Ornette Coleman tribute band — have won festival prizes. Sides studied at the University of South California, New York University and Berklee College in Boston, where he was taught by the great Alan Dawson, a mentor of Tony Williams. Over a long career which featured an early stint as the house drummer at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, he has played with Illinois Jacquet, John Handy, Teddy Edwards, Phineas Newborn, Bobby Hutcherson, Abbey Lincoln and many others.

Recorded last October at Big Jelly Studios in Ramsgate, Duplexity is a fine showcase for the evidently strong relationship between a trumpeter whose warm, bright open tone evokes the hard-bop masters of the ’50s and ’60s and a drummer with a light touch and a supple sense of swing. Restricted means, in terms of instrumentation, but the result is a rich experience with no sense of austerity — or of overplaying to fill the spaces.

Trajectories and densities are chosen to make the most of the available resources. The session feels informal and spontaneous, with the rough edges left in. Two of the pieces were composed by Sides and two by Cano, and none of them, ranging from four and a half to six minutes, outstays its welcome. Most of all, it’s good to hear two musicians from different generations and of such diverse backgrounds revelling in the common language.

* Duplexity is available at www.danielcanomusic.bandcamp.com (click on the track “Perpetual Motion” to see a video). Cano and Sides will perform together in a livestream from Ronnie Scott’s Club on April 15: http://www.ronniescotts.co.uk/scheduledaily/2021/April/15. The photograph is by Martin Goodsmith.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. I cannot find a contact form but I’d like to be in touch with you. I’m in charge of the press relations for the Siena Jazz International Workshops that should take place between July and August. I’d appreciate a contact message at francesco.martinelli (at) gmail.com. Thank you so much.

    April 8, 2021
  2. Hi Richard,

    I hope you are well and thriving during these trying times.

    You seem to be blissfully unaware of the duo of which I’m one half of, the other half being the great iconic drummer, Paul Clarvis. Over many years we’ve played many gigs as a duo and also once recorded a CD for Paul’s Village Life label. We called the album, “Weirder Than Us”. Only 100 copies were ever issued and it sold out immediately.

    A high profile duo gig Paul and I played was at the Appleby Festival one year; one reviewer called our performance there the high spot of the festival. For the last tune I invited one my favourite trumpet players, Dick Pearce, to join us and so then we had two trumpets and drums!

    Another notable duo gig myself and Paul did was for the Jazz Matters series of Sunday lunch time chats and performances at the Stables in Wavendon. This was notable because John Dankworth, who was seriously ill and seated in a wheelchair, asked us whether he could play a tune with us. He did and, sadly, that was the last time his alto ever came out of its case. Shortly after that he passed away.

    On the topic of trumpet and drums duos, last year I played duos on a number of occasions with another wonderful drummer, Stu Butterfield. We started by playing in our front gardens as a part of the weekly Clap for Carers events and, as local people were appreciative and enthusiastic, we continued our weekly performances, weather permitting, all the way into the autumn.

    For many years Stu Butterfield organised gigs in a number of venues. One lineup Stu would often put together for a gig would be for two duos. One duo would be Paul and myself and we would usually start the evening off. Our spot would then be followed by a duo of Stu playing with the great saxophonist and clarinet player, Chris Biscoe playing together. Finally, to finish the evening off, we would put both duos together with Paul and Stu playing together by sharing one drum kit. It was always amusing to watch them seated either side of a bass drum. We used to call this double duo, “A Pair of Braces”!

    Cheers and kind regards,

    Henry Lowther

    April 12, 2021

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