Steve Wilson / Bruce Barth Quartet

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What has become a very fruitful musical, and personal, relationship, "began in 1987-1988, as first Steve Wilson, and then Bruce Barth arrived in New York: and took shape in the pianist's Brooklyn apartment, where jam sessions happened daily. "Bruce's apartment was like jam heaven," according to Wilson. "[Trumpeter] Dave Douglas, [bassist] James Genus, everybody came through at one time or... more

What has become a very fruitful musical, and personal, relationship, "began in 1987-1988, as first Steve Wilson, and then Bruce Barth arrived in New York: and took shape in the pianist's Brooklyn apartment, where jam sessions happened daily. "Bruce's apartment was like jam heaven," according to Wilson. "[Trumpeter] Dave Douglas, [bassist] James Genus, everybody came through at one time or another." Barth recalls meeting Wilson through Genus and [drummer] Billy Drummond and feeling "an instant affinity," one that has developed over the years in a variety of ensembles, led by others as well as each other. While many jazz contemporaries have proven able to work at a level of familiarity over the music's history, the affinity of Barth and Wilson has risen to the near-fraternal realm that one might expect from the Adderleys and other gifted siblings. "I like Steve's earthy, funky, soulful approach, which at the same time is very sophisticated melodically and harmonically." Barth offers in explanation of the mutual attraction. "He will always surprise you, and his improvisations are fantastic, but even in playing a melody he finds a way to put his stamp on it while still being true to the spirit of the original. I can identify him in three seconds when I hear him on the radio, whether on soprano or alto."

Wilson, who cites the association with Barth as his most venerable since moving to New York, adds that the pianist was writing inspired music from the outset, and that the level of trust they enjoy remains regardless of the ensemble. "Every time we play it feels like a new chapter," says the saxophonist, adding, "If Bruce is going to be on the gig, I know everything will be great. We know each other's language and provide each other an anchor." Bob Blumenthal

Wilson and Barth made a duo recording in 2009, produced and released by the We Always Swing Jazz Series in Columbia, MO. 'Home' was recorded live in a private home.

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