Friday, 8:00pm – Starbucks Coffee House Gallery
The cool September evening gives way to stuffy heat as this indoor space fills up for the Benny Green/Russell Malone duo’s first set. The pair will have this stage to themselves for the evening, playing until midnight.
With the lights turned down to a cave-like darkness and a few impotent ceiling fans struggling vainly overhead, the pair waste no time in demonstrating the art of melodic conversation.
Malone is eloquent on guitar, Green terpsichorean on piano as the duo strolls through a program of lesser-known standards. Jarring bursts of applause from the otherwise silent crowd threaten to upend the delicate atmosphere, but Green and Malone are used to it by now. They smile and play on.
The duo trades off the knuckle-busting melody line of Paul Chambers’ “Tale of The Fingers” with ease, then pull back for a hushed take on “Where Is The Love.” This tune, best known from Roberta Flack’s hit recording, here acquires a lazy summer feel that matches the room’s heat, with just a hint of bossa nova lapping at the edges.