Christof Lauer/Eric Watson Quartet: Road Movies (2004)
It is a fast and energetic road movie that Eric Watson and Christof Lauer have shot for us. Long driving parts in unison shape the sound of this fascinating record. Lauer is a renowned German jazz performer and composer who stands in the German free jazz tradition of Albert Mangelsdorff, with whom he frequently works, and the European bop of Heinz Koller. On Road Movies he makes use of the full range of his abilities as a virtuoso without just showing off.
Paris-based American pianist Eric Watson is the perfect partner on this road trip. His excellent timing and imaginative solos push the compositions forward to the (speed) limit. The compositions, all written by Watson, range from rhythmic experiments reminiscent of Monk to Coltrane-like ballads. Due to the excessive use of pedal points, the music seems to be suspended above the ground without ever standing still. Although the limited use of compositional vocabulary makes the different pieces sound somewhat similar, it also creates a sense of homogeneity throughout the record.
The album does not consist of seven different Road Movies, but rather one with seven different chapters. The rhythmic work of French drummer Christophe Marguet serves as a powerful engine on this musical journey. A real discovery is bassist Claude Tchamitchian, whose subtle accompaniment is energetic, yet never gets in the way of the ensemble. The versatility of his profound work really ties the improvisational flights of Lauer and Watson to the music.
Road Movies is probably not the best choice in order to get an overall idea of the music of Lauer or Watson, for it only illustrates one aspect. But it can be definitely recommended as an introduction to their work.
Track Listing: Road Movies/ Road Runners/ The Last Goodbye/ Hardware/ Situation Tragedy/ Inroads/ Hard as Nails
Personnel: Eric Watson (Piano), Christof Lauer (tenor and soprano saxophone), Claude Tchamitchan (double bass), Christophe Marguet (drums)