Nick Sanders & Logan Strosahl, Janus (Sunnyside)
Collaborators since their student days at the New England Conservatory nearly a decade ago, pianist Sanders and saxophonist Strosahl are dedicated to tradition and improvisation. Making the two qualities inseparable, they take listeners on an excursion through music as old as the dance rhythm of the Allemande, as new as the adventurism of Strosahl’s genre-busting title tune and as familiar as “Stardust.” It makes programming and musical sense when they go from their daring “Be-Bop Tune” to the 14th century composer Guillame Machaut, then to the quintessential 20th century composer Olivier Messiaen. Strosahl’s “Mazurka” leads into lilt and lyricism in Willard Robison’s “Old Folks,” with echoes of Charlie Parker. Sanders’ nostalgic “R.P.D.” finds the two mostly in sober unison and in a plaintive minor ending. With his two faces, the ancient Roman god Janus looked back and ahead—as does this intriguing namesake album.