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Steven Loewy
I have to confess to a certain bias against the saxophone-led trio, as it is often an easy way for saxophonists to economically record, sometimes without anything new to say. That is emphatically not the case here, and while this configuration seems to be a dime-a-dozen these days, what distinguishes this one is the powerful sound of its leader on alto saxophone. Each of these trio pieces is fully improvised, except for “Insomnie” and “La Danse de Grand-Mie,” which were composed by Canadian saxophonist François Carrier, who leads his trio through an exciting collection of performances. The album is a sort of compilation from different venues, although the unifying factor is that Carrier uses the same personnel each time. Carrier totally commands his horn, spitting out a flow of ideas that is almost breathless in its virtuosity. The stark contrast between the composed tracks and the improvised ones demonstrates Carrier’s talents as an improviser and writer. While his solos on the freely improvised pieces are impressive for their inexorable intensity, as a composer he shows a different, overtly melodic side, particularly on “La Danse de Grand-Mie.” As a unit the trio is solid as a rock, with Michel Lambert a forceful presence who is capable of gentle prodding when called for, as on “La Marais,” with occasional disconcerting rim shots from left field, and Pierre Côté an especially singular voice on bass, as his percussive elements and improvisational acumen add immeasurably to the mix. Carrier, though, is clearly in charge, as he dominates every track with his extraordinary, almost thrilling, rapid delivery and his confident voice. On “Open Conversation,” Carrier solos sans rhythm for a short time, before the bass and then the drums add support. While this reviewer seems to have somehow missed Francois Carrier’s previous output, this album clearly evidences his exciting talent, which should not be missed, especially by those who enjoy the alto saxophone.
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