Today's artists are a good example. Vocalist Boris Savoldelli and guitarist Garrison Fewell are artists totally in-the-moment. They are unpredictable in the most creative sense. You can never be sure what either will do. And so their pairing turns out to be auspicious...by virtue of the free-wheeling, anything goes approach they take on and the success of the risk-taking they allow themselves.
Their duo album Electric Bat Conspiracy (Creative Nation 024) puts the two in various zones as they see fit. Yet it does not jar but instead seems inevitable after a few listens. There is a Lou Reed tune and a couple of standards. The rest is open-form, yet contrastingly structured freedom.
You listen and you hear a musicality that comes out of work and inspiration in equal amounts. Garrison is a free player who is informed by his mainstream jazz training. He brings with him all the harmonic and melodic things you learn to become super-proficient on the guitar, and that is much, in the bop and after-context. And he applies that with his own special sensibility to the project at hand. At the same time Boris has finely tuned his vocal instrument over a long period so he isn't "just" winging it, but applying ways of going about things that have to do with training and experience.
The fact that both have travelled far from mainstream concerns makes the standards as they approach them all that more challenged--they defy the melodies, lyrics and harmonies to yield further things than they do in "standard hands" and they get something far different from them.
They also have compositional ideas of their own that they bring out well, such as "Circle Round." Then there is the flat-out outness that has to do with sound color and expression.
The end-product is a vocal-guitar duet set that takes us in very original directions, so much so that your first hearing, like mine, might be a sort of "WTF?!" For me that was my first take. Then I kept listening and it all started coming together for me, bit-by-bit, until now and I get it completely.
It's daring. The vocalizations, the guitar work and the ambiance. Daring. I can't say it fits any mould. Either a mainstream or an avant mould do not fit this music. That is in fact excellent! So listen to this one and get someplace different. It's worth the effort.