Dave Anderson and Mike Wingo | Pathways Review
by Jeff Becker
Dave Anderson and Mike Wingo continue to put forth meaningful duet albums highlighting the conversational interaction between piano and drums. Duet’s have always been a fertile ground for improvisation, and Anderson and Wingo have continued to explore this setting since 2006. In 2010, the duo released their first duo CD, entitled Conversations. The Anderson-Wingo also collaborated with vocalist Kim Scudera on an album titled Exploration. Their latest release Pathways furthers the duet’s growing discography in an innovative elaboration of eleven original compositions by Dave Anderson, plus an updated new arrangement of Miles Davis’s classic “Milestones.”
“Modal Mood,” is precisely what you would expect, a rich exploration of modes. The tune offers a richness of sonic pathways in which Anderson glides with conviction and poise as he weaves an ever-building intensity to the melody, with flurries of notes with his left hand and a solid accompaniment with his right. All the while, Wingo colorizes with rhythmic flourishes on brushes that propels the piece to a crescendo ending.
Admittedly the title “The Leprechaun’s Jam” made me curious, as its quirky title was intriguing. Indeed the tune is as well. Wingo employs percussion and auxiliary sounds while Anderson dances atop with jazz voicings and a hint of an Irish jig. A jaunty tune filled with meticulous details that serve the melody well. What is most inviting about this duo is the vibrancy of their sound you never find yourself wishing there were more instruments to fill out the ensemble. Each composition is soulful, filled with technical prowess.
Covers are always a tricky road. In the hands of Anderson and Wingo Miles Davis’ “Milestones” with its modality that became legendary fits nicely with Anderson’s originals. Anderson’s dexterity is limitless, as is his rhythmic touch that ranges from commanding to introspective creating needed moods, especially in a duet setting. Once again, Wingo laces the tune’s momentum with creatively complex layers and auxiliary percussion to add to the profundity of sound.
Together Anderson and Wingo have created a byway for the duet setting. I fully expect there to be many small ensemble recordings in the era of COVID, but make no mistake Anderson and Wingo offer a depth that can only come from years of creating together and the rapport that time takes. Pathways is worth the exploration.