By Philip Coombs
I have never concentrated on a piece of music so hard that I've missed my bus stop before. So 'Upstream' , the only trio piece from the album Shores and Ditches, is now the proud owner of that distinction. I was totally absorbed in the moment, not an easy task in this day and age with my phone buzzing in my pocket and my tablet buzzing in my work bag. With eyes closed and forehead firmly on the window, I heard the restraint, the power without the obvious violence in a very live room where reverb is long enough to be its own instrument. Recorded in the St. Leonard's Shoreditch Church in the U.K. Back in 2011, Shores and Ditches uses the wood and glass to offer up the music and let's it bounce back to them. I was very in tune with my spacial awareness and the knot building in my stomach. I opened my eyes once during this 19 minute offering just in time to watch my stop whip by.
For half the tracks on the recording, François Carrier (sax) and Michel Lambert (drums) keep the music amongst themselves, creating duo moments that showcase their long history together. These selections, 'Caldera', 'Lava' and 'Reef' are the most immediate and compelling. They resonate with that certain familiarity that is very difficult to fake, like two good friends in the car pool lane making fun of the kids on motorcycles.
Daniel Thompson (guitars), Neil Metcalfe (flute) join the 'Upstream' trio of Carrier, Lambert and Guillaume Viltard (double bass) for 'Wadi', the only track where the full quintet is heard. It wrestles with angelic fluttering and a Spanish flamenco blended with a full compliment of intelligent atmospherics.
The title track, Carrier's solo, demonstrates how captivating a sax solo can be when augmented with intense passion, longing, and a clear vision, plus of course that reverb that goes on for days.
On a side note. As I was flipping (scrolling) through older reviews on this page, I stumbled upon the entry that made the world aware that the web page had just welcomed its 60,000th visitor. (Wednesday, March 12th, 2008) François Carrier commented on that post saying that he was the 60,001st. Hope you are still reading François!
Can be purchased from the label.