Review: The Two Man Gentlemen Band – Two at a Time (Bean-Tone, 2012)
The two gentlemen in question, Andy Bean on four-string electric tenor guitar and Fuller Condon on upright bass, hark back to the same era of swing that fueled Dave and Deke, Big Sandy and others of the West Coast revival. The Gentlemen are influenced by jazz and country, but with a bon vivant humor that has them worrying about watery drinks, luring females into bathing suits with a pool party, and upgrading to two-star accommodations. They don’t employ the hipster lingo of Louis Prima or Slim & Slam (though their riffing on “Tikka Masala” is a clever update of “Cement Mixer (Puti Puti)”), but still evoke a similar mood of high jive. Bean has an old-timey sound to his voice, and borrows guitar stylings from gypsy jazz, western swing and other pre-war delights; Condon’s bottom end is both melodic and percussive, adding a second instrumental voice and keeping dancers on the swinging beat. Laid down on monaural tape with vintage microphones and no digital processing, the recording holds the vitality of performance, rather than the precision of multi-track construction, complete with imperfections and even bits of tape hiss. Mostly, though, it holds the energy and nostalgia-tinged verve of two talented and well-read musicians.