"Rosen and Strickland are more than just in sync - they often sound like a single musician playing two instruments." - Kevin R. Convey, Boston Herald
"With the soul of an improv jam session, these two are one of the tastiest, new treats to come along in a while. Fine stuff that adults will love hearing when they are in an off-the-clock mode. Check it out." - Chris Spector, Midwest Record
Josh Rosen and Stan Strickland began their collaboration on a magical autumn evening in the parlor of an elegant Victorian inn. The immediacy of their rapport cast a wide safety net for mutual musical adventure. Wild cascades of improvisation through diverse yet connected musical worlds enthralled the audience. “Instinct” continues the voyage: a joyous spontaneous ride through a profound range of emotions and musical story telling.
Rosen's compositions, direct and engaging, with strong formal constructs, propel the duo’s explorations. Sparkling woodwind colors play off a keenly responsive piano, at times reflective, probing, and playful. The music shouts, whispers, and cries, carrying one away with it. Strickland creates an astounding variety of colors due to his virtuosic command of seven woodwind instruments, innovative, expansive vocals and percussion, all deeply rooted in world traditions.
“INSTINCT” (ZiggleZaggle Music) opens disarmingly with a little funky piano riff and cool finger snaps. A bluesy theme emerges, builds into a driving piano solo that finally gives way to the sweet sounds of Strickland’s soprano sax. Stan repeats the simple chorus call and takes off on a grooving improvisation. Suddenly time stops – and the listener is down the auditory rabbit hole - free time, free harmony and melody, and multiple mirrors of the duo appear. The cell divides and divides again.
“Puffer Pond” takes us into the woods to witness an evocative interspecies dialogue. Next, we come full circle to the Rodgers/Hammerstein classic, “Hello Young Lovers”. Strickland’s soulfully buoyant interpretation comes complete with a grooving “vocal-percussion” section.
Rosen’s meditative composition, “Slowdance”, is a minimalist, Zen-like piece that unfolds timelessly, blending bass clarinet, alto flute, bass flute, doubled piano, and wordless vocals in a dark dreamy mix. “Rhythm”, a free- bop ramble, awakens us from our dreamy state with its euphoric swing – the pure joy of voice and piano spontaneously summoning the bebop spirits...in all keys and non-keys!
“Christmas Carol”, another surprise, is hauntingly beautiful with its dark brooding mystique, sleigh bells notwithstanding. “Lady Jaguar” has the dancing movement of a contemporary classical duet. And “Goin’ Down” rocks us into an ever-descending blues line before fluttering away in a light waltz...
The set ends with a gorgeous heartfelt rendition of the sublime standard, “For All We Know”. The lyric sums it up for these artists, who play with true spontaneity, knowing the depth and dearness of the moment.