Quick! Name as many pieces as you can think of written for double bass and oboe. Sorry, time’s up, but never mind: here come oboist Carrie Vecchione and bassist Rolf Erdahl to the rescue, with “It Takes Two…”, an entire disc devoted to recent repertoire for those two instruments (with a “time-out” for English horn). In every track, Vecchione’s creamy piquancy makes an ideal foil for Erdahl’s gruff ardor.
Three compositions by Tim Goplerud, who earned a master’s degree in double bass from Juilliard and now works in the School’s I.T. Department, show the composer’s feeling for jazz, as well as his sensitivity to this duo’s coloristic extremes. There is something inherently humorous about these two instruments bonding together and Goplerud exploits this in Vignettes from The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (2006), three short ruminations on Tulane, a porcelain rabbit. (I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the composer likes Satie.) Rhumboid, also from 2006, is an adroit mix of rhumba and bebop, and the elegantly smoldering title track (for which Vecchione switches to English horn) was inspired by Astor Piazzolla’s tangos.
The balance of the program includes three miniatures by composer Dinos Constantinides, who earned a Juilliard Diploma in violin in 1960, Shane Monds, and Vernon J. Sandoz III, grouped as the Louisiana Suite, and pianist/composer Andrea Clearfield’s Three Songs for Oboe and Double Bass After Poems by Pablo Neruda (1997), climaxing with the dramatic counterpoint of “Every Day You Play.” In contrast to the disc’s lighter moments, Jody Nagel’s enigmatic Bedtime Stories (2003), a set of short works based on monsters in Greek mythology, stands out like a mournful dream.
Adrian Mann’s Canzone Vecchione (2005), crafted from five Italian folk songs as a birthday gift for the oboist’s father, ends this delightful, unusual project. The intimate recording, produced by the legendary Howard Scott (lured out of retirement for this project) and engineered by Eric Arunas at WFMT Studios in Chicago, has just enough space to place you in a comfy chair right in the room with the performers.