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Francois Carrier: Travelling Lights

Jazz can use as many Francois Carriers as it can get: youngish free-thinkers who’ve absorbed the verity of what came before them without being hamstrung by it. Carrier is a thoughtful, one might even say “cool” alto saxophonist. To me, he occasionally sounds like Paul Desmond being channeled by Steve Coleman, though I hesitate to lay an “influence” rap on him. He’s his own man.

Play is an assembly of tracks recorded live by Carrier’s trio while on a 2000 tour of Canada. Six of the eight tracks are fully improvised; two more are Carrier originals. The band (Pierre Cote, bass, Michel Lambert, drums) is a smooth operating, dynamically prescient outfit. Cote and Lambert are quiet cookers. Cote’s lines are nicely elastic; Lambert excites without overwhelming, space- and volume-wise. Carrier knows how to build a solo and when to bring it down. Combined, they comprise a first-class free-jazz trio. Their work here is filled with dynamic and textural peaks and valleys. While I might wish the peaks were a little higher, taken as a whole, the landscape is quite attractive.

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