If there is anything that holds these elements together throughout the CD, it's Bédard's astonishing, thick-toned bass, and he nearly succeeds in making the parts into a whole through sheer musicality and willpower. Bédard does the work of an entire rhythm section on the terrific "Noaaide," which has no drumming or percussion at all: just Coté and Doyle playing a snaky, Henry-Mancini-flavored theme over Bédard 's strong walking bass.
The most successful songs, interestingly, are the ones with Drouin on tuned steel drums. Here, the strata of overlaid polyrhythmic percussion simplify as Drouin becomes part of the melodic structure: not quite a piano, but much more than drums, comping over Coté's soloingas well as playing tuneful solos in ringing stereoon "Soleil de Minuit" and "Dame Jeanne." And if these tunes work best, it's because despite the exoticism of the steel drums, they are a step back towards jazz; they swing. Coté is attempting something new with the more polyrhythmic material, and if it does not always succeed, the leader's ambitions are to be admired.
There is at least one percussion-heavy number where everything does succeed: "Bigoudi," which features Doyle's muted, Milesy trumpet alone over dizzying triple percussion: an expecially forceful Drouin with Paré and Coté (Bédard lays out), and it's very good. And, really, if a musician is trying something different, and it goes as hoped even one song per album, then that album should be considered a successeven if a qualified one. That pretty much sums up Lapon Balèze.
Track Listing: 1. Lapon Balèze 2. Soleil de Minuit 3. Dawson 4. Frugale 5. Zurca 6. Noaaide 7. Juoik 8. Donidoni 9. Dame Jeanne 10. Wild Joe 11. Bigoudi
Personnel: Michel Coté: baritone sax, tenor sax, percussion; Aron Doyle: trumpet, flugelhorn; Alain Bédard: acoustic bass; Raynald Drouin: drums, steel drums, percussion; Christian Paré: percussion
Record Label: Effendi Records
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