The pi­ano duel

El­ton John and Leon Rus­sell break their own pat­terns and sur­prise them­selves.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIFESTYLE - By RANDY LEWIS

FEW peo­ple can get away with telling an anec­dote about be­ing on sa­fari in Africa and make it sound like a trip to the su­per­mar­ket.

But for El­ton John, that’s pre­cisely how and where he be­came in­spired to call his key­board-play­ing pal Leon Rus­sell af­ter more than three decades since they’d last spo­ken. That call ul­ti­mately led them to record The Union, a duet al­bum out now. “In 2008, I did a (Sun­dance cable chan­nel) pro­gramme called Spec­ta­cle, which I pro­duced with my part­ner, David Fur­nish,” said John, 63, ref­er­enc­ing the Elvis Costello-hosted mu­sic in­ter­view­per­for­mance se­ries he helped cre­ate.

“I chose three singer-song­writ­ers to talk about that I thought had been ne­glected: one was David Ack­les, one was Laura Nyro and one was Leon Rus­sell. At the end of the pro­gramme, I kind of made up a pseudo-Leon Rus­sell song. Be­cause my part­ner, David, had never heard of these peo­ple, he went out and bought all the CDs and put them on his iPod.

“In Jan­uary of 2009, I was in Africa on sa­fari, get­ting ready to go to lunch, and David started play­ing

Duet: El­ton John salutes Leon Rus­sell, one of his he­roes, on their col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort, The­Union.

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