Duets, trios, quartets, and even quintets are all nomenclatures of jazz music. Another name for this would be called bands or banding groups of people. Try to experiment by buying CDs with these different facets and hear the different sounds they produce. A fine example of a duet, is the new CD from Tom Collier (a vibraphonist), and Dan Dean (electric bassist) called Duets. Duets are one of the most difficult avenues to play in jazz. To have the sound successful, you need an instrument, in this case Dean on bass, to play both exact time and has almost perfect rhythm. If this person slows down or speeds up the song, it will literally collapse or destroy the song. In this scenario, Dean does neither, but plays effortlessly in great time. These two people are well seasoned players and by listening to the CD, you can tell they have been together for some time now. It's an interesting theory, that when you play with a person or a band for a while, you can sense that next chord change, even though it's not written in the music. It's kinda like reading each others minds. The jazz people call this hitting the pocket or grooving out.
As Collier & Dean start each tune, Dean starts and keeps the beat most efficiently, while Collier will come up and will join him in rhythm, then goes into the melody of the song, while still playing chord changes! This is a rare classic, to hear finesse, relaxed playing. I listened many times to this CD, and after a while you could swear they were musically talking to each. This makes a quality duo. Being a bass player, I listened to Dean intently. He plays a five string bass. He uses the thicker string or lower string to fill the hole or gaps in the song. There are no gaps at all. Wonderful! He has a beautiful full sounding bass. You will also notice he throws things in, such as sub-melodies, called riffs, or plays textured chords, and even does a nice job of slapping. This is a technique done by pulling up on one bass string, while using your thumb to hit another. It takes a lot of hard work to assimilate this sound.
Track 4 is my favorite. It's the immortal John Coltrane tune called Giant Steps. This is an extremely difficult tune to do with a 4-piece band. The song has many moving chords and if played too quickly it is hard to keep with. Collier & Dean play this song like they wrote it. The amazing part is with these chords passing so quickly in the tune, you cannot leave any quiet gaps or holes. In this rendition, Collier & Dean not only leave gaps and holes, but they play the song in both in a fast tempo and slow. It's fantastic! Almost scary. On track 3, called Now & Then (a ballad) listen how they make wonderful usage of these gaps. The selections on the CD are quite diverse, playing everything from Coltrane, Miles Davis, to even the Rolling Stones. This is a must buy! I give a 4 out of 5 on my jazz-o meter rating!