Denis Fournier / Nicole Mitchell: Watershed (2013)
Fournier's admiration for the AACM's sense of collective endeavour manifests itself in the way his compositions offer such varied opportunities for expression by this crack unit. Taylor has flown largely below the critical radar, but proves a vital presence, soloing strongly and bolstering the ensembles. After the Frenchman's appropriately thoughtful introduction to "Dannie Richmond," Taylor wails convincingly on tenor saxophone, latterly in muscular duet with seething drums. Later on "La Voce de la Luna" he more than holds his own on flute in tandem with Mitchell, which is no mean achievement given her darting lines, embellished by vocalized trills and vibrato shadings. His work on electronic valve instrument convinces less, adding subtle and disconcerting hues at the outset of "Le Partage des Eaux" before becoming more anonymous as the track progresses.
On bass Bernard Santacruz, like the drummer, supplies sensitive though periodically challenging counterpoint. He shines at the start of Mitchell's episodic "Pathways" as he struts his stuff around a taut riff, leading into what is the most ambitious cut on the album. Dualling tenor and flute chafe at the bounds of normality, before opening into whistling unison over a scratchy backing. So much detail is packed in that the piece might have benefited from longer than its nine-minute span. Reid's warm supple tones mingle with the bassist in an edgy twosome at the outset of Fournier's concluding "La Voce de la Luna" heralding a martial processional which takes the disc out in an air of melancholy triumph. Though the geographic and economic realities might be difficult, there's enough here to justify this being more than a one-off project.
Track Listing: Dannie Richmond; Le Partage des Eaux; Pathways; Prayer for Wadud; La Voce de la Luna.
Personnel: Denis Fournier: drums; Nicole Mitchell: flute, alto flute, piccolo; Hanah Jon Taylor: tenor & soprano saxophones, flute, electronic valve instrument; Tomeka Reid: cello; Bernard Santacruz: double bass.
Record Label: Rogue Art