François Carrier Quartet - Noh

Tom Sekowski, Gaz-Eta

If you enjoy free-wheeling improv, Montreal native Francois Carrier will not let you down. In fact, his alto and soprano machinations have kept me interested in his work over the last decade or so.
His latest project, a quartet with guitarist Reg Schwager and percussionists John Heward and Michel Lambert, is a thriller from the get go. Recorded in Montreal last May, music is "entirely improvised" by all members of the quartet. In fact, this feels like a loose and unconstrained session, one that came about on a whim. I don't know what sort of discussion Carrier had with his band mates, but the case may be, there was no discussion at all.
Carrier's signature windy wails blow the others out of the waters. Schwager is masterful at plucking the strings, every few minutes coming up with tuneful solos. On "Noh Four", Schwager challenges the percussionists to a powerhouse head-to-head. Heward's and Lambert's fury is kept in check by the leader but when they fly, they scorch. Polyrhythmic scheming from the drummers is a blast to hear and their interaction with Carrier's windy and persistently angular approach is unforgettable.
One minor complaint, the recording has a hollow deep end quality wise, which takes away a tad from the listening experience. Otherwise, "Noh" is a brave record taking us deep inside the world of this often under-looked musician.