One of the factors that determines whether improvised music works or not is how well the players know and listen to each other. If players can anticipate what and the way in which each other will play, then they can tune their playing so that everyone sounds more coherent and beautiful. This tension of not knowing exactly which way the music will go is one aspect that gives creative music its excitement. Tenor saxophonist Kidd Jordan and pianist Joel Futterman have shared studios and stages since 1994, both as duos and as part of larger ensembles. They are excellent at knowing where each other will go and then going there.
The two improvisations that comprise Interaction, recorded in December of 2009, show them playing inside and outside each other with a great sense of possibility. Futterman rarely plays conventional chords; instead, he uses clusters and short phrases both to complement Jordan and fire up his own improvisations. At certain points, he plays single notes to give Jordan free reign in his harmony. Jordan keeps his saxophone in the conventional range, with only a few passages where he overblows.
There are points when Futterman plays open, modern chords favored by 1970s pianists and Jordan’s saxophone climbs skyward, climaxes, returns, and then repeats that motif. It gets an air of McCoy Tyner’s abstractions crossed with John Coltrane’s “Interstellar Space” explorations. In addition, Jordan’s tone and note selection have taken on a quality that many older, more experienced musicians assimilate in their later years. It’s almost as if each note has a greater weight and meaning. Now more than ever, Jordan’s total saxophone conception is a sound that we all should listen to and a unique treasure in the world of music.