Formidable, as her compatriots would say. Time Out Trio
, the debut album from young French saxophonist Geraldine Laurent, introduces a bare knuckle force of nature, well-versed in the jazz tradition but not afraid to put her own abandoned spin on it. Rough-edged, risk-taking, high octane, totally in the moment, the music bursts out of the speakers like a hurricane.
Laurent's alto playing is rooted in Charlie Parker, his wild, sometimes squawking, clattering attack played with a slightly softer read and with a narrower embouchure, but still well tough. Other voices echo round the edges: alto saxophonists Ornette Coleman, Cannonball Adderley and Joe Harriott. And occasionally, on the infrequent ballad, the divine Paul Desmond. But most of the time, Laurent, who's on-mic for practically the entire 47 minutes of the album, just wails.
Recorded in a Paris studio in December 2006, Time Out Trio has an in-your-face, warts-and-all, lo-fi live sound, brilliantly suited to Laurent's gutsy style. There are nine standards and one original, and it's surely no coincidence that two of the tunes are by bassist and bandleader Charles Mingus, whose turbulent spirit resonates here. The longest track, a seven-plus minute head-charge through Mingus' ferocious "Fables Of Faubus," is outstanding. Laurent romps through the tune and an extended solo paying full homage to reed player Eric Dolphy's signature, incandescent reading on Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus (Candid, 1960), avoiding the tortured outer extremes of Dolphy's vocalizations, yet communicating plenty of her own rebel passion. Mingus, you sense, would have loved it.
Other standoutsthough there isn't one dud on the setinclude dynamic readings of Wayne Shorter's "Lester Left Town" and Hoagy Carmichael's "Skylark," and Laurent's own "A Quiet," which is a soft, wistful ballad before the gas gets turned up.
Laurent is perfectly matched by her colleagues, bassist Yoni Zelnik and drummer Laurent Bataille. Both stand toe-to-toe alongside her throughout, and Mingus analogies continue to suggest themselves. Zelnik plays with the same muscle and abandon, Bataille with the confrontational zeal of the great man's favorite drummer, Danny Richmond. Most of the time, they work the engine roomZelnik with a mixture of ostinatos and free flourishes, Bataille in call-and -responseand each thrills on his couple of brief solos.
This is an extraordinary debut album, and Geraldine Laurent is a gale force blast of good news.
Personnel: Geraldine Laurent: alto saxophone; Yoni Zelnik: bass; Laurent Bataille: drums.