Jon Rose once titled one of his albums Violin Music For Restaurants, and now Mike Khoury (same instrument) and Piotr Michalowski (soprano sax, bass clarinet) revise and expand that concept, as a large chunk of this CD was recorded at Argiero’s Restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the typical background of such a place often emerging behind the playing: jangling of knives and forks, curious children and the meagre, almost distracted applause at the end of the performance. Yet these guys are not rendering a muzak version of “Just The Way You Are”.
As a matter of fact, the combination of timbres generated by the comrades is exquisite, although not all the pieces are immediately graspable. Neatness and serenity appear to be the main traits of this collection, those qualities also informed by a technically superior, if modest nobility. Khoury and Michalowski sound like men whose single dilemma is defining a kind of expression that even ordinary people can understand, despite the complexity of some of the intertwining lines. A commitment to near-perfection that leaves a lot of room for instantaneous creativity, the mix of ingredients generating a sort of advanced folk-ish idiom contaminated by a good measure of non-conformity under an apparently trouble-free façade.
A not-quite-consonant ode to relax, masterfully executed by artists who could act as condescending virtuosos but instead are content of sharing their vision with those who happen to be in front of them, either eating or listening – or both. An unassuming loveliness is what remains for us at home.