Montreal alto saxophonist François Carrier continues to expose his universalist free jazz as widely as possible, recording the extended tracks on Elements at concerts in London and Krakow. While the sonic flow appears almost unstoppable in intensity and inspiration, Carrier is no musical cynosure: the inventive Quebec percussionist Michel Lambert (who has long played Robin to Carrier’s Batman) is on board, as is British bassist John Edwards, who adds his ambidextrous command of arco and pizzicato pulses to the mix.
The trio’s free-form music is anything but unbridled bombast. There is definitely the requisite amount of shrill irregular vibrations, tongue slaps, and altissimo squeals from the saxophonist; rubs, rumbles and pitter-patter from the drummer; and thumps and pulsations from the bassist, many of which evolve in parallel counterpoint to one another; but the narratives aren’t limited to abstractions. On the more-than-twenty-nine-minute concluding track, “Wilderness,” tranches of melody that have been barely audible in earlier improvisations are more discernible, as the interpretations stretch further and further outwards. Carrier’s soloing is more mellow and assured, Edwards’ string strokes are thicker and more responsive, and Lambert’s careful rhythms underscore the others’ designs. Sometimes the narrative is also subdivided into a duo of guitar-like plinks from the bassist and querulous vibrations from Carrier or into Lambert’s husky raps matched by reed stutters. Crucially, the climax is reached only after the last iota of emotional expression has been squeezed out of each instrument’s exposition.
The elements exposed throughout are high quality musicianship coupled with limitless inspiration.