Individually and collectively important parts of the Indianapolis jazz scene, guitarist Joel and bassist Nick Tucker – collectively known as the Tucker Brothers – are instructors of Jazz Studies at Ball State University and have distinctive resumes boasting performances with and alongside greats ranging from Pat Martino and Russell Malone to Randy Brecker and Stefan Harris.
The title of the third album, the adventurous and dazzlingly eclectic fusion date Two Parts, is a bit ironic, since the brothers (aka the “two parts”) are in full ensemble action throughout, creating a multitude of mood swings and tempo variations and improvisational jam magic with the two guys rounding out their quartet, Sean Imboden (saxophone) and Brian Yarde (drums) and a dynamic cadre of guests. Wordless vocalist Elena Escudero turns the silky, easy flowing opener “Warm Heart” into a soulful dreamscape, while saxophonist Walter Smith III creates a fiery horn conversation/duality with Imboden on the increasingly rambunctious “When Souls Meet.”
There’s also pianist Ellie Pruneau, who creates a steady, elegantly hypnotic underscore for the multi-movement, rhythmically varied title track; and saxophonist Amanda Gardener, who brings fresh whimsy to the perfectly titled “Sundancing.”
While the Tuckers enjoy engaging their high-end company for the most part, they also dazzle here and there with powerful solos, most prominently with Nick’s plucky bass intro to “Heavy Drop” and Joel’s cool fire electric guitar solo on “Lifely.”