Ellis, now in his late 70s, reveals on "Conversations in Swing Guitar" that he is indeed still at the top of his game-as benefits a player who came to prominence with Oscar Peterson's Trio and has duetted in the past with Joe Pass, Barney Kessel and the late Charlie Byrd. It's also a tribute to Robillard, whom arguably belongs and ranks with such distinguished company.
There are seven tracks, with the guitarists in friendly, loose and relaxed mode, taking solos and ensemble passages with all the ease that two experienced slingers can muster. Also joining the session is Robillard rhythm section members Marty Ballou (bass), Marty Richard (drums) and Ellis' rhythm guitarist Terry Holmes.
The set starts out with the Lionel Hampton/Benny Goodman flag-waver "Flying Home," taken at a much easier pace than usual, and runs through three Robillard originals, a rarely-covered Duke Ellington tune ("Just Squeeze Me"), a Coleman Hawkins piece with a boppish riff ("Stuffy"), and another old swing classic "Avalon" that was associated with Benny Goodman.
This record is a musical conversation between two great guitarists.
This review is copyright © 2000 by Matt Alcott, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.