243

The Contest of Pleasures: Albi Days

John Eyles By

Sign in to view read count
The Contest of Pleasures: Albi Days For Albi Days, their second Potlatch recording, The Contest of Pleasures (now the trio's name, formerly an album title; you may recall a similar thing happened with "Foxes Fox" ) adopted a very different methodology to the first, reflecting some of the shifts that have taken place in improv in the five years between the releases.

Whereas the first album was recorded live and released as a faithful record of the live event, as was the norm in improv since its infancy, Albi Days is the result of many hours of recording—using no electronics—in a variety of contexts around Albi, that were then subjected to varying degrees of post-production by the musicians and sound engineer Laurent Sassi (something that would have been considered anathema in improv circles a decade ago—but would barely have raised an eyebrow elsewhere). Butcher is responsible for two tracks (titled in English), the others one each. So the results are as much compositions as they are improvisations. But enough of the methodology; what of the results?

Of the six tracks, the two by Butcher show least evidence of manipulation, making them the easiest to start with. Butcher says that he wanted them to sound "played," and that is what he achieved. "Garden Cress" begins at low volume, with Butcher employing some of his trademark techniques—fingering with blowing, and blowing without making the reed vibrate—resulting in a textured sound environment that would not sound alien in a rainforest (true of several passages throughout the album). Halfway through the piece, the mood shifts dramatically as Butcher starts to generate ever-louder, high frequency sustained notes, accompanied by a drone effect from Dörner. "Winter Squash" features multiple layers (manipulated?) of sustained notes that create a consistent but ever-varying drone to mesmerising effect. More than any other saxophonist, Butcher has come to terms with the role of the instrument in the post-eai landscape, having been crucial in shaping that role.

The opener, Xavier Charles' "Les Oignons," and Dörner's "Karfiol" are both more constructed than Butcher's tracks. However, they are both primarily improvised music rather than something else. Both have droning periods interspersed with periods of extremely low volume; neither has much in the way of all out blowing; both fit the rainforest scenario well. Oh, and both are excellent: I've listened to them countless times and feel I've barely scratched the surface.

The final piece, Sassi's "Les Cornichons," at times resembles an electronic composition rather than improv, although the source material is frequently evident. Its mood is again compatible with that of the rest of the album—in fact, the whole album has a pleasing coherence. This is a rich, complex album that, like the trio's first, will amply repay years of listening. Please, let's not wait another five years for volume three...

Track Listing: Les Oignons; Garden Cress; Winter Squash; Karfiol; Les Cornichons.

Personnel: John Butcher: tenor & soprano saxophones; Xavier Charles: clarinet; Axel D

Title: Albi Days | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Potlatch Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs CD/LP/Track Review Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Float The Edge CD/LP/Track Review Float The Edge
by John Sharpe
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Resonance CD/LP/Track Review Resonance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Black Focus CD/LP/Track Review Black Focus
by Rokas Kucinskas
Published: July 23, 2017
Read Birdhoused CD/LP/Track Review Birdhoused
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works" CD/LP/Track Review Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 4, 2017
Read "Vanheusenism: A Tribute to Jimmy Van Heusen" CD/LP/Track Review Vanheusenism: A Tribute to Jimmy Van Heusen
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 2, 2016
Read "Second Impression" CD/LP/Track Review Second Impression
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 14, 2016
Read "Upbeat And Sweet" CD/LP/Track Review Upbeat And Sweet
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 13, 2017
Read "Antidote" CD/LP/Track Review Antidote
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 29, 2017
Read "Planets + Persona" CD/LP/Track Review Planets + Persona
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 29, 2017

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!