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May 2003

Yves Robert
In Touch
ECM Records

Trombonist Yves Robert refers to his music as "imaginary baroque," and it's an apt description. A few passages from his In Touch (ECM) might convince you, if only for a moment, that baroque music is the recent development and that free jazz is the centuries-distant influence that Robert lets seep into the music. Robert's trio finds plenty of inspiration within their loose, frequently reconceived fusion of modern improvisational music and baroquelike elements-most often manifest in mournful themes and gorgeous counterpoint. Robert himself possesses an otherworldly sound that comes from his proficiency in the upper extremes of the trombone's range and a breathy, fruity tone. Nothing pleases him more, however, than to abandon that for lower-register snarls in passages of impish free improvisation or abrasive multiphonics. His fellow musicians easily match him in versatility. Cyril Atef, a drummer with one foot in improvisational music and another in ambient, dance and ethnic musics, confidently offers a shifting pulse one tune, and something very close to a disco beat the next. Cellist Vincent Courtois leaves his mark on "Basculement du desir" with a dancing, folkish pizzicato solo, but nails the two-part melody lines and abstract accompaniment that is the meat of this recording.

Originally published in May 2003
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