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Jazz Review: Ben Wendel/Dan Tepfer's 'Small Constructions'

The art of the duo makes for rewarding listening.

April 02, 2013|By Chris Barton
  • "Small Constructions" by Ben Wendel and Dan Tepfer.
"Small Constructions" by Ben Wendel and Dan Tepfer. (Sunnyside )

Though Ben Wendel and Dan Tepfer could be considered newcomers as compared with 75-year-old saxophone master Charles Lloyd (who also recently released a duet album, "Hagar's Song," with pianist Jason Moran), they show as much restless invention on "Small Constructions."

While still a duet, the album lives up to its name with some judicious multi-tracking, allowing Wendel (co-leader of the genre-skipping jazz-rock group Kneebody) to seamlessly switch to melodica and bassoon, such as "Still Play," the opener, and "Gratitude," which expands with a quiet grace. Tepfer, who justly earned raves in 2011 for tackling and then improvising to Bach's Goldberg Variations, is as much a standout with the insistent "Nines" and the tumbling "Rygabag."

The duo also pays tribute to the classics, offering a breezy take on Thelonious Monk's "Pannonica" and "Ask Me Now" as well as Handel's Variation 1 in D minor with equal, complimentary affection, proving again that even with only two voices, there are seemingly endless avenues to harmony.


Ben Wendel and Dan Tepfer

"Small Constructions"


Three stars (out of four)


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