Dyad is a partnership between alto saxophonist Lou Caimano and pianist Eric Olsen and the two have a new recording of duets Dyad Plays Puccini (Ringwood Records). Olsen's wife, Operatic singer Pamela mentioned to him that Caimano’s alto saxophone reminded her of an opera singer and this fact led to this duet recording which fuses the lovely melodies of the great opera composer Puccini with the jazz instincts and inventions of Dyad. Each contributed more than simply their play as Olsen contributed seven arrangements and Caimano three.
While I am not overly familiar with Puccini’s operas, there was instant recognition of Musetta’s Waltz from La Boheme, and one is struck by the lovely, almost clarinet tone of Caimano along with Olsen’s stately accompaniment and his own lyrical solo. Other of the songs the dup interpret may be less familiar to my ears but the performances are equally enchanting and one can hear echoes of his music in more contemporary music. Portions of the rendition from of Ch’ella mi credo (from La Fanciulla del West”) evoke Paul Simon’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, and lead me to wonder if Simon was a Puccini fan in his youth. Caimano’s arrangement and very vocalized playing here certainly leaves a strong impression on the listener. Their jaunty rendition of the Act I Overture for Madame Butterfly contrasts with the delicate, wistful Che gelida manna, although both are beautifully performed in their own manner with some exquisite interplay between the two.
Puccini left us a body f some of the most memorable and lovely melodies in all of music and the marvelous jazz duo interpretations from Lou Caimano and Eric Olsen make Dyad Plays Puccini one of the most intriguing and delightful surprises to come along.
I received my review copy from a publicist. Here is a selection from this recording.