Peter Leitch-John Hicks: Duality
Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, June 1 & 2, 1994
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
Soon after guitarist Peter Leitch left his native Canada and relocated to New York, he began a regular association with the late pianist John Hicks that was preserved on several of Leitch's CDs during the '80's and '90's, including their sole duo outing, Duality. Hicks' powerful attack served him well in his recordings with artists such as Oliver Lake, David Murray, Arthur Blythe, and Pharoah Sanders, but the pianist's more tender and lyrical side is what made him such a complete player and helped ensure the success of this session with Leitch. The guitarist's relatively light tone and deceptively laid-back, sophisticated approach could have easily been steamrolled by a less sensitive partner.
As Leitch explained in the Duality CDs notes, the title track "has two sections, one of which is rather static, harmonically; it's modal. The other section contrasts with harmony that moves around a lot." Right away you notice the beautifully captured sounds of the two instruments, thanks to engineer Rudy Van Gelder. The two-sectioned theme is appealing melodically and in its rhythmic thrust. Leitch solos confidently and with relaxed yet finely detailed lines, as Hicks plays galvanizing chord patterns in support. Van Gelder's positioning of mikes directly on both Leitch's guitar and amp give his electric instrument a radiant acoustic quality. Hicks becomes less restrained in his solo, backed by Leitch's softly strummed adornments. The pianist's forceful phrasing and strong left hand accents are an irresistible combination. The theme's supple replay serves as a final especially satisfying release.
Reviewer: Scott Albin