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January/February 2004

Francois Carrier
All Alba
Justin Time Records

Altoist François Carrier's All Alba (Justin Time) features a terrific rhythm section: a savvy yet combustible drummer, Michel Lambert; an agile, rock-solid bassist, Pierre Côté; and-as a special guest-the terrific all-world pianist Uri Caine. Carrier's up to playing in such heavy company. There's a heavy Meditations-era Coltrane vibe to his work. He's a strong, virile player, his lines long and for the most part lightly articulated. His sound is more tenor- or sopranolike than alto, and sometimes has a keening quality that might not please everybody. To these ears, however, his sense of dynamics and timbral variation compensate for an occasionally grating tone. Carrier's tunes are serviceable at the very least. However, it's the group interaction within the improvised sections that lifts the proceedings, so it's no surprising that the all-improvised "Jeu" includes some of the most creative playing on the album. Caine's playing is, as they say, beyond category. He's a musician who sounds like no one but himself, regardless of the context. Like the Armacost album, this one's another unassuming yet incendiary blowing date, and cheers to that, mate.

Originally published in January/February 2004
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