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Like many of us, British jazz musicians Ant Law and Alex Hitchock took advantage of the pandemic to fulfill a collaborative dream, resulting in the duo debut Same Moon in the Same World. Guitarist Law seems to hail from the Wes Montgomery school, with thick lines played at top speed, but never at the expense of the tune. Saxophonist Hitchcock likes to stick to the melody, making him the dominant riffmeister, but he’s perfectly capable of visiting outer space when it’s time to solo.
As both men favor melodic construction over unrestricted blowing, together they create a program that, while technically impressive, is more purely musical than anything else. The feather light atmosphere of Law’s “Vivid,” for example, contrasts nicely with the burning fire of Hitchock’s “Outliers,” while the guitarist’s groovy “Haven’t Meta Yet” balances out Hitchock’s tension-building “Salvo.” Yet they all share an interest in tune over technique, making each song have an appeal wider than just to fans who like to nod in appreciation after a particularly sharp solo. Clearly the pair aren’t alone in their love of melody, as they recruit a startlingly imposing set of sidepeople: drummers Eric Harland, Jeff Ballard and Kendrick Scott, bassist Linda May Han Oh, pianist Shai Maestro, vibraphonist Joel Ross, and saxophonist Tim Garland, among others. The duo rounds out the album with an unaccompanied and beautiful take on John Coltrane’s “After the Rain,” which is as clear an indication as to where they’re coming from as any of their original music.