Wednesday, January 31, 2007
François Carrier - Happening (Leo Records, 2007) ****
François Carrier is a stellar Candadian soprano saxophonist. His tone is warm, buttery, yet powerful. I was already strongly touched by his former CDs. "Travelling Light" with Paul Motian and Gary Peackock, is in my eyes the musical equivalent of a watercolor painting : sensitive, precise, gentle, but so strongly emotional. "Play" is more of a free jazz outing with drums and bass, again recommended. On "Happening", Carrier brings his music a step further, adding Mat Maneri's viola and Uwe Neumann's sitar to the party, an unusual combination, with his regular partners Pierre Côté on bass and Michel Lambert on drums. This double CD is one great free collective improvisation, with at first temptative and sometimes hesitant approaches in the creation of the music, but as the first long piece evolves, it starts hitting solid ground and a coherence of sound. This is indeed unusual music. It offers the contradictory feeling of a band playing in your living room, while opening a musical horizon of pure and unlimited space. It has the expansive freedom of the music of Jan Garbarek, but instead of Nordic chill, you get a warm, almost tropical charm. A great adventure of free music. Despite Carrier's extreme respect and the long solo space he offers to his bandmates, especially Matt Maneri, he is the star of this CD. He has the rare quality of playing sensitively and powerfully at the same time. A great musician to follow. If there is one negative aspect to give, it is the sound balance of the recording : the sitar sounds very far away at times, and with the limited "voice" of the instrument, this is a pity.
Below you can watch a five minute video sample of the performance.