Mark O'Leary & Han Bennink - Television

Clifford Allen, AllAboutJazz

Bailey’s work with Bennink was decidedly unsubtle and rooted in a Dutch-English sense of antagonism. That’s not so evident in Bennink’s duets with Irish guitarist Mark O’Leary on Television, where the Zeeland elder statesman relies wholly on his Klook-inspired shuffle, the same one that propelled saxophonists like JR Monterose, Eric Dolphy and Dexter Gordon to staggering heights in the ‘60s.

O’Leary often chooses partners who revel in the same sort of midrange subtlety, so it’s often hard to discern the obvious in his landscape. With a contrasting (but not antagonizing) element like Bennink, his
improvisational acumen, the fleetness contained in cloudlike delicacy, is given something to both butt up
against and with which to move forward.

The guitarist revels in the low end, nearly tenor-like on the title track as Bennink stirs the pot with high-pitched press rolls and crashes, finding rhythms from bebop to Surinam within the scumbled, gauzy pitches of O’Leary’s fretwork.

There’s a nearly gypsy-like swing to “Stylus”, like most of the tunes here a quick and concise run through fleeting ideas (only three of the dozen tracks run over five minutes). That’s not to say the pair can’t stretch out and the longer Bennink has his way with O’Leary, the more he seems to tease the specifics out of the guitarist’s blended air.

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