On Cactus, his fourth record, François Bourassa's piano trio becomes a quartet with the addition of saxophonist André Leroux. Leroux adds a lot of spice by playing some spirited solos that utilize the full range of his instrument, occasionally venturing into extended techniques to achieve the maximum effect of overtones and underblown delicacy. The pieces on Cactus where Leroux lends his horn are certainly the finest on the record.
Otherwise, the Bourassa trio suffers from a problem common to many piano triosthe pianist often does not allow enough space for the other players. For example, on the first track, Bourassa repeatedly uses his left hand to emphasize bass notes. The bassist deserves this territory. Bassist Guy Boisvert, an otherwise sensitive and understated player, frequently retires into the leftover space and occasionally finds nothing left. Repeated unison lines and retreats to the root just don't do Boisvert justice. His walking basslines and rare jaunts into solo territory demonstrate his proficiency on his instrument, but a lot of the time you have to make a special effort to hear him play. And because drummer Yves Boisvert mostly plays a role protecting the beat and adding occasional secondary accents, the trio ends up sounding somewhat superfluous. In a solo setting, François Bourassa might be able to make a poignant statement. But there's just not enough interplay on Cactus to justify a full trio.
Track Listing: Cactus Erectus; Le Tunnel; Chambrette; A Bientot Maurice; Mes Espadilles; Groove Racinesque; Par Tons Lents.
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