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Robert Iannapollo     Jeff Parker and Scott Fields are two of Chicago’s finest guitarists. They’ve each had diverse histories and while their musical paths have crossed before (on the sextet recording Denoument), this is the first time they’ve played together as a duo on disc. Parker has a pedigree playing in some of Chicago’s more unusual ensembles: Isotope 217, Chicago Underground Duo, and Tortoise. Fields strikes me as a more restless individual, working primarily with various musicians (i.e. Marilyn Crispell, Francois Houle, Hamid Drake, and many others) but never settling in with one group. But Parker and Fields, although very distinctive players, almost mesh as one on this set of surprisingly low-key duets. Both can be highly abstract players when the mood strikes them but, here, they sound like two guitarists firmly rooted in the Jazz guitar tradition. The opening section of “Untitled 2001, Soot on Slate” sounds like something Jim Hall might have attempted back in the early 1960s (when he was playing on recordings like Gunter Schuller’s Jazz Abstractions). Although four of the tracks are based on themes, this one is an improvisation. Oddly enough, it has a compositional feel to it. The two circle lazily around each other with melodic lines and dissonant yet gentle accompanying chords. The whole thing holds together nicely. The opening and closing tracks on the disc (Parker’s “LK” and “The Fields Of Cologne”) are also in the gentle, quieter vein. And “Fields Of Cologne” has a truly beguiling melody. But there’s a lot of variety in this program. “Untitled, 2004, Dried Blood On Gauze…” contains some furious scrabbling and some of the most intense music of the set. Yet, even at their most frenetic, Parker and Fields are listening players and never seem to get in each other’s way. Although both players are noted for their use of effects boxes, preparing their instruments, etc., the majority of this disc refrains from that approach. Probably the most effects-laden track is “Untitled 1968, Bing Cherry Juice…” (love these titles) and it has some of the finest playing of the set. Although it must also be said that this track contained some rambling passages that made it go on far too long. But this disc is, for the most part, surprisingly free from endless noodling that sometimes plague the duet format. Song Songs Song finds two of today’s most forward thinking guitarists (who also just happen to be from Chicago) engaging in fruitful dialog. —   Cadence Magazine

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