Saxophonist Jean Derome, violinist Malcolm Goldstein, and guitarist Rainer Wiens are pillars of Montreal’s improvised music community who retain their sense of whimsy and their willingness to test the limits. Frequent associates in varied contexts, they meet for the first time as a trio on 6 improvisations, where one finds a genuine playfulness.
The unpredictability is evident from the opening track, “Saturnien,” with Derome offering sustained saxophone blasts that may test the limits of aggression. By the end of the ten-minute piece, his sound is as warm and sweet as any sentimentalist might desire, as if in the course of the group dialogue Derome has inserted a history of alto saxophone sonority from Ellington sideman Johnny Hodges to French provocateur Jean-Luc Guionnet (a recent associate)—but he has done so in reverse.

That style of juxtaposition and unlikely evolution takes different forms here. Goldstein is a master of a kind of multiple musical speak, throwing off masses of bowed, plucked, and strummed notes with such rapidity that the shifting method of articulation seems like a continuous gesture. He and Wiens enjoy such a developed camaraderie that at times they seem to speak a single compound voice. The almost programmatic “L’idée de nature” floats on Wiens’ kalimba figure and Derome’s bird-like flute calls, while the sequence of six improvisations seems to move towards ever-greater empathy, climaxing with the memorably sustained, pensive dialogue of “Glissements-Souffle.”