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Astin Peterson Duo Live in Greece
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Astin Peterson Duo Live in Greece on CD

Jazz Duo Performance at Archilochos Hall Our island is getting ever more culturally savvy, but it comes in waves. Jazz saxophonist Charlie Peterson and pianist Paul Astin endeavored to increase our musical pleasure with a fine jazz concert. Both musicians are from Los Angeles. Paul is presently living in Paros, where he is writing about the thematic connections between rembetika and blues. Charlie is a welcome visitor, sax in tow. The Archilochos Hall was full of lucky people. Since Paul and Charlie are only recent bandmates, they stuck to standards. That's O.K. with me: standards remain durable because they are rewarding to play; they have pleasant melodies and logical harmonic structure. The duo commenced with Kenny Dorham's bossa nova "Blue Bossa," and then went on to "Autumn Leaves." Paul, who speaks Greek, then introduced a beautiful tune by the great Syrian rebetis Markos Vamvakaris. Before the evening was over he played three more and also a folk song; everyone knew the words to these. To return us, the duo then played a blues number based on a traditional bass line, and also Monk's "Well You Needn't." Some thought it was over, but it was only the intermission. No one left. When I was young, tenor saxophonists tended to be influenced by Coleman Hawkins or Lester Young (Hawk or Prez), both extraordinary players. Now they turn to John Coltrane or Sonny Rollins, who is still playing. Charlie has taken Coltrane's furious flurries of notes and Rollins' muscular variations and melded them into his own style, which is skilful, bluesy, and full toned. Paul, whose style melds the harmonic quirkiness and structural solidity of Thelonious Monk with the rhythmic drive of Errol Garner, moves further back in time, without sounding dated. Both their styles are based on, but not contained by, bebop, jazz's most intellectual style. I think the second half was even better, since the musicians were warmed up and relaxed. They started with Richard Rodger's "My Romance," went on to Miles Davis's nearly chordless "So What," Rollins's rollicking calypso "St. Thomas," and Romberg's "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise" (an operetta tune), and concluded with Monk's "Blue Monk," probably the most played jazz blues of the last half-century. Jazz is a risky style. Musicians practice and practice, but never know what will come out, and playing the same old safe riffs is boring. You are always on the line, hoping for inspiration, trusting in your colleagues. Paul and Charlie put their heart into the music, and came up with some unexpected stuff. And as Fats Waller noted, "the joint is jumpin'". We hope Charlie gets an urge to return to play for us again. Paul will be here, so we can look forward to that. And Yiorgos Ploumidis, who sensitively sat in on percussion for four numbers, is here too. The joint will be jumping again. -Jeffrey Carson Paros Life Magazine (Issue 121, December 2008)