We should always give thanks each time that Penn Jillette picks up his contrabass and plays despite a seriously successful career as a magician-comedian as we should, indeed, give thanks that this time Thomas C. Burns is there with his Capri Records team to record it. And while the title is appropriately beguiling: The Show Before The Show the melodies ten songs by this swinging duo captured here are sufficiently memorable to warrant many an encore. Actually you couldn’t ask for a better duet and a better recording as well.
Mr. Jillette – who, in his magician-persona always has a bag of tricks up his sleeve with which to tease, amuse and mesmerise his audiences – shows up here playing superbly. His fulsome tone and voluptuous notes are captured in all their glory by engineers Wayne Willard and Dave Pascoe. However, much more credit than expected goes to Mr. Jillette for also bringing with him an enormous and beckoning colour palette and to be so fully engaged in exploiting the gloriously rich timbre of his contrabass. For his part Mike Jones employs his sinewy two-handed technique to command the beautifully-tuned piano and he dazzles with magnificently echoing and vaunted runs that punctuate single note excursions atop the keyboard, his soli often sprinkled with simply superhuman arpeggios.
Best of all, Mr. Jones holds nothing back and keeps challenging Mr. Jillette to respond in kind. This the bassist does and There are a few really outstanding examples of Mr. Jillette’s virtuoso playing. “Manhã De Carnaval”, “Tangerine” and the growling one on “Box Viewing Blues” are truly outstanding. The wonderful repertoire is packed side to side and both musicians always have an infectious way with the dancing rhythms of each melody – all of which are played with a profusion of alluring gallantries. The final piece – “Exactly Like You” – is particularly breathtaking; a fitting end to a viscerally exciting programme.
Track list – 1: Broadway; 2: Corcovado; 3: But Not For Me; 4: Have You Met Miss Jones; 5: There Is No Greater Love; 6: Manhã De Carnaval; 7: Tangerine; On The Sunny Side Of The Street; 8: Box Viewing Blues; 9: Exactly Like You
Personnel – Mike Jones: piano; Penn Jillette: bass.
Released – 2018
Label – Capri Records
Runtime – 1:00:38