Alex Martin

The Art of the Duo


In my corner of the music business, one ends up playing a lot of duos--duos with bassists, duets with violinists, duos with vocalists... Part of this is the result of performing often in restaurants and other small venues, part of it is just the general downsizing and shrinking budgets of everything. Fortunately, I love playing in this form, one of the most intimate art forms there is. When it is really working, a duo is a conversation greater than the sum of its parts. In the interplay between the two musicians, and between them and the audience, something independent and almost autonomous is created, which the creators (who, again, always include the audience) observe and respond to in turn. When I play a duo, I'm inspired by masters of this form, pairs like Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass, Paulo Bellinati and Mônica Salmaso, Homero Lubambo and Cesar Camargo Mariano, Bill Frisell and Fred Hirsch, Jim Hall and Bill Evans, Gene Bertoncini and Michael Moore... I am committing sins of omission here, but if you're not familiar with any of these pairs, I urge you to check them out. Here are a couple of examples of my own duo work, with two talented collaborators.