A pairing of a guitar and trombone in a duet format for an entire album can certainly be considered unusual. The duo of Georgi Petrov—who’s heard on an acoustic, electric and square-neck guitar—and trombonist Russell Ramirez offer primarily quick takes (the tunes run from two to just over four minutes) on jazz classics such as the opener, “April in Paris.” The result is often tonally pleasant, like two talented friends jamming in a living room. Petrov and Ramirez are both familiar faces on the New Orleans scene often playing in traditional jazz groups.
On Beware of the Cats, they lean towards more modern jazz composers, including pianist Horace Silver on his “Summer in Central Park.” The two capture the essence of romance that is at the heart of the song. Less successful is their take on saxophonist Dexter Gordon’s “Cheese Cake.” The Latin tinge works but Gordon’s deep passion and modern jazz push gets lost. That’s the case again on pianist Bud Powell’s “Dance of the Infidels,” on which Petrov and Ramirez begin the great standard with a too-long, unrelated intro. The best thing about these tunes is that they send you directly to YouTube to hear the originals.
They fare better on the perhaps less familiar “Ray’s Idea,” best known as performed by trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie. They get it swinging despite the lack of drums and bass.
Beware of the Cats is in format and direction as odd as its title.