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Monday, January 12, 2015

Henri Roger, Benjamin Duboc, Didier Lasserre - Parole Plongée (IMR, 2014) ***½

By Dan Sorrells

It’s always interesting to see how a rhythm section adjusts to different playing partners. Last year, bassist Benjamin Duboc and drummer Didier Lasserre reprised their trio with Daunik Lazro on Sens Radiants. Here, Lazro’s inimitable sax is swapped out with Henri Roger’s touch on the ivories. Of course, in a modern piano trio the “rhythm section” often gleams in unorthodox hues, so perhaps we should just say that it’s always a pleasure to hear familiar minds and hands sparring with exciting, unfamiliar ones. Duboc contacted Roger after hearing some of his improvisations online, and, after catching a duo show of Duboc and Lasserre, Roger teamed up with them for the recording that would become Parole Plongée.

The sound of the group is not unlike Duboc and Lasserre’s trio with pianist Jobic Le Masson (Free Unfold Trio), though less brooding and a bit more caffeinated. Parole Plongée starts off with a beautiful solo by Duboc, which drifts along lyrically as Roger and Lasserre gradually throw in support. As the pace quickens, a strong energy percolates just below the surface, signaling not tension, but enthusiasm. As “Sables” progresses, a call-and-response develops between Roger and Duboc, a playful dispute negotiated through Lasserre’s thrumming mediation.

“Altermutations” is built out of stacks of piano notes—sustain pedal firmly planted—creating a rippling pool of sound, over which Lasserre’s cymbals rustle in the wind. Roger has a thoughtful approach—a light touch, well articulated. He’s interested in harmony, and often lets chords hang in the air for a moment, savoring the decay and soaking in how his compatriots choose to respond. In some ways, the track reminds me of the cool, Nordic aura of a lot of Bobo Stenson’s trio work, Christensen and Motian lurking in Lasserre’s brushwork.

Parole Plongée is nice in that it strikes an attractive balance between the carefully selected and arranged sounds typical of lowercase improvisation and the more fast-paced virtuosity of free jazz. “Thé Ou Café?” is a loud little sprint—it’s the most animated of the bunch (clearly they picked the second option), lasting less than 4 minutes and prefacing the long, introspective “Ré-Horizontalisé.” Things briefly boil over as they reach a crescendo in the final minutes, Roger heaving clusters of deep notes into the foray.

In all, a satisfying little album, for sure.


FreeJazzJeff said...

An outstandingly compact and eloquent review, Daniel.... much like the dialogue on this nifty (as in interplay) but thrifty (as in time) CD. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.