Jeff Crompton’s ‘Duets’ debuts at 800 East Studios

The jazz maestro drops an album of adventurous collaborations

Crompton John Arthur Brown
Photo credit: John Arthur Brown
JAZZ MASTER: Jeff Crompton debuts his latest album, 'Duets,' at 800 East Studios January 26.

It takes two to tango on Duets, a new album by composer and saxophone player Jeff Crompton pairing up with a trio of formidable collaborators. Featuring a dozen songs and bonus track, Duets highlights Crompton’s expansive stylistic palate, and his deep command of jazz expressions.

”Half the pieces were written with a particular duet partner in mind, and half are old compositions, but everyone's contributions took them to a new level,” Crompton says.

To celebrate the release of Duets, all of Crompton’s partners — Stuart Gerber (percussion), Peter Sloan (trombone), and Chris Case (piano) — will be on hand for a concert Saturday night at 800 East Studios. Sloan gets the award for farthest distance traveled. The ex-trombonist with the 4th Ward Afro-Klezmer Orchestra is currently pursuing a PhD in music at the University of California in San Diego.

Duets kicks off with “Stumble, Fall,” a rhythmically dynamic excursion for alto sax and percussion. Gerber’s imaginatively crafted small kit (blocks, toms, cymbals, bell) bashing perfectly complements Crompton’s elegant melodic phrasing. “It’s the kind of thing that wouldn’t work with most musicians,” says the saxophonist, “but I knew it would work with Stuart.”

“Vic and Sid” is a bluesy romp featuring Crompton’s alto and Sloan’s slide trombone. Like a couple of old friends after a few too many, the duo sloppily weaves down a late night alley, straying apart and bumping back into each other in a series of flurries, squawks, bleats and blats, eventually finding their way home in perfect harmony.

Pianist Chris Case brings his lushly romantic chops to bear on a few of the album’s softer, more palpably trad-jazz, compositions (“Hidden Hearts,” “Daylilies” and “In the Basement,” the latter co-credited to Case). On the closing track, “Offering,” the pianist accompanies Crompton’s sweetly honed alto with a bit of overdubbing and reverse playback, which works surprisingly well considering the straightforward nature of the rest of the music.

Duets includes a bonus track, which features Crompton and Atlanta-based drummer/composer Jamie Shepard performing Ornette Coleman's “Lonely Woman” at the Music Room in 2011. The music competes with audience chatter and a squeaky restroom door, which somehow makes the subtly powerful duet performance all the more remarkable.

This is sublimely sophisticated jazz, but not so esoteric that the listener needs specialized ears to dig it. To one degree or another, every track on Duets is imbued with an essentially engaging pairing of swing and groove.

$5 (door) or $10 (includes a CD or download code). Sat., Jan. 26, 8 p.m. 800 East Studios, 800 East Avenue, NEW, Atlanta, GA 30312, 470-240-1282.

More By This Writer


Thursday March 14, 2019 01:14 pm EDT
New chamber works and innovative instruments on tap at GSU and Georgia Tech | more...


Monday February 18, 2019 11:23 pm EST
‘Voices of Mississippi’ and ‘Listen All Around’ illustrate similarities between the Deep South of the ’60s and East/Central Africa of the ’50s | more...


Monday February 4, 2019 07:15 pm EST
Concert celebrates new releases by BASrelief and W8ing4UFOs | more...


Tuesday January 29, 2019 06:43 pm EST
Sister Helen Prejean discusses the ‘conflicted spiritual journey’ | more...


Thursday January 17, 2019 10:39 am EST
Portland-based reissue label’s co-founder Eric Isaacson showcases a secret history of musical cycles | more...
Search for more by Doug DeLoach