The twin tenor sax tradition yielded grand pairings with the likes of Wardell Gray and Dexter Gordon, Arnett Cobb and Eddie 'Lockjaw' Davis, Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt, and Al Cohn and Zoot Sims. This one-shot teaming of Charlie Rouse and Paul Quinichette brought forth a union of two distinctly different mannerisms within the mainstream jazz continuum. Rouse, who would go on to prolific work with Thelonious Monk and was at this time working with French horn icon Julius Watkins, developed a fluid signature sound that came out of the more strident and chatty style heard here. By this time in 1957, Quinichette, nicknamed the Vice Prez for his similar approach to Lester Young, was well established in the short term with Count Basie. His liquid, full-bodied, soulful tone became an undeniable force, albeit briefly, before he dropped out of the scene shortly after this date to be an electrical engineer. The stereo split of the saxophonists in opposite channels, a technique endemic of the time, works well whether they play solos or melody lines together. It enables you to truly hear how different they are. Working with standards, there's a tendency for them to play the head arrangements in unison, but then one of them on occasion plays an off-the-cuff short phrase that strays from the established melodic path. They also seem to do a hard bop jam, then a ballad, and back to hard swinging. The title track is simply a killer, a perfect fun romp of battling duelists, and one that you'd like to hear in any nightclub setting. Some slight harmonic inserts set "This Can't Be Love" apart from the original and "The Things I Love" displays the two tenors at their conversational best, while the lone original, "Knittin'", is a fundamental 12-bar swing blues, straight up and simple but with some subtle harmonic nuances. The rhythm section of pianist Wynton Kelly, bass player Wendell Marshall, and drummer Ed Thigpen do their usual yeoman job. But on two tracks, pianist Hank Jones and rhythm guitarist Freddie Green take over, and the sound of the band changes dramatically to the more sensitive side on a low-down version of "When The Blues Come On" and the good-old basic vintage swinger "You're Cheating Yourself". The combination of Rouse and Quinichette was a very satisfactory coupling of two talented and promising post-swing to bop individualists, who played to all of their strengths and differences on this worthy -- and now legendary -- session.
Paul Quinichette & Charlie Rouse: The Chase Is On
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