All sorts of jazz, free jazz and improv. Never for money, always for love.
Traditionally, holiday time gets people thinking about CD box sets as gifts. But merely offering multi-disc best-of collections hardly shows originality. Instead the most valuable multiple CD sets are collected because, like the talented players featured here, the musicians literally had more ideas than could be expressed on even two discs. Take Paris-based bassist Benjamin Duboc for example. Probably the busiest and most inventive player of his instrument in French improvised music circles, Primare Cantus (AYLCD 098-099-100 www.ayler.com), a three-CD-set, highlights a different facet of his work on each side. A treat for double-bass fanatics, the solo work on Disc 1 demonstrates that by also using his voice and extended techniques the spatial program not only expresses the fascinating bass timbres but does so in a way that the resulting sounds seem electronically processed although thoroughly acoustic. Meanwhile Discs 2 and 3 are equally excellent showing how his mature style adapts to input from radically different ensembles. Accommodating his jagged bowing and hearty string smacks to the vibrations from saxophonists Sylvain Guérineau and Jean-Luc Petit plus cunning percussion asides from Didier Lasserre, results in concentrated sounds that are as accommodating as they are opaque. The fifth untitled track for instance, perfectly matches low-pitched bass arpeggios with the timbres of cymbal tops being gonged and gauged, while track nine climaxes with majestic glissandi from both reedists mated with Duboc’s speedy string scrubbing that completes the initial challenge between the bassist’s strums and subterranean snorts from Petit’s baritone plus fortissimo bites from Guérineau’s tenor. Pascal Battus’ guitar pick-up and the subtle introduction of field recordings give Disc 3 more of an electronic cast. Overall, with Sophie Agnel concentrating on fishing out unexpected note clusters from her piano’s internal string set and Christian Pruvost mostly propelling pure air from his trumpet, the thesis is timbre expansion not swing. For instance, the bassist’s concentrated ostinato underpinning Battus’ bottleneck flanges, the trumpeter’s strained grace notes and Agnel’s mallet popping on the strings creates mercurial dynamism. Additionally, suggestions of billiard balls being racked or magnetic tape reels reversing provide unexpected tinctures in a sound field otherwise consisting of agitated bass licks, quivering piano strings and squealing brass. Overall, an aviary explosion from Pruvost, shaped by Agnel’s metronomic pitter-patter and Duboc’s pedal point is as exciting as anything recorded by Roy Eldridge with Oscar Peterson and Ray Brown.
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