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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

François Carrier & Michel Lambert - Kathmandu (FMR, 2007) ****½

Kathmandu in Nepal has always been a spiritual destination for truth-seekers worldwide. Canadians François Carrier on sax and Michel Lambert on drums, went there for a double live performance in 2006 at the Jazzmandu festival. Despite the apparently huge travel duration and problems, including the early departure of the bass-player in India, the music sounds astonishingly fresh. The album brings 12 tracks of freely improvized duets, and the music is great. It creates a high level of tension by combining opposites, as if the music fuses the yin & yang elements to ascend to a higher more whole reality, to remain in the buddhist atmosphere : the 12 pieces are compact and open at the same time, dense and free, melodic and raw, down-to-earth and spiritual, harsh and gentle, powerful and sensitive, with control and abandon, rich in vocabulary while sober in execution ... In former reviews I already complimented François Carrier on his warm tone, even in the most intense moments, and he manages to keep this quality also in this duo-setting. Michel Lambert is a great percussionist too, as subtle and powerful as needed, with a style all his own, now rumbling, then highly rhythmic, yet creative and precize. The duo adds something which is furthermore rare in free jazz : a great lyricism and melodic inventiveness which does not require lots of expansion to come to the point. The music is small, managable, digestible, but great too. And the Nepali audiences appreciated this as well.