Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Daniel Humair: Liberte Surveillee

Daniel Humair is not just an accomplished drummer and abstract painter, he’s one of those rare musicians who is just as comfortable playing with bop stylists like Lucky Thompson and Phil Woods as he is with modernists Anthony Braxton and Albert Mangelsdorff. The Swiss drummer’s latest release, Liberte Surveillee (Sketch), is a live double-CD set recorded in Paris with an all-star new-music quartet featuring guitarist Marc Ducret, bassist Bruno Chevillon and tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin. This is music that swings its own way, as Eskelin and Ducret both spin out long variations on Humair’s “Give Me the Eleven” (the title provides a clue to the challenging time signature). In these capable hands, structure and abstraction are not mutually exclusive. Compositions like “Urgence” and “Amalgame” are very free, though they have an implied tonal center. Sometimes it’s hard to discern a meter, but there’s usually a free-flowing pulse. Humair’s anthemic “IRA Song” features rumbling rhythms and a fragmented march, with Ducret’s guitar singing the initially sad, then eventually triumphant melody. As with many of these extended pieces, the tension doesn’t always resolve, rather it rises and falls. Eskelin hits on “Salinas” like a fist full of quarters, and he engages Chevillon in a searching duet on “Triple Hip Trip.” Ducret plays long, snaky lines throughout, and on “Mutinerie” indulges in pitch bending and surreal melting notes. Humair’s playing is consistently inspiring, and his tom-tom and cymbal solos on “Missing a Page” are deft and dazzling. This is a standout release.

Originally Published