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Saxophonist Remi Álvarez explores the horizons of free improvisations through six different combinations. He plays solo, collaborates in a duo setting with drummer Gabriel Lauder and has led four trios. FAS Trio is his Mexican band, one that balances composition with freedom for often arresting results. The trio takes chances but does not defy logic, and in doing so, brings about a deeply satisfying sense of accomplishment.
Álvarez is a robust player whose thick phrasing darts and swivels with creative abandon. He can change the track of his journey in an instant, switching into the upper register without losing out on continuity and pulse. It is that daring which marks him as a tantalizing adventurer.
"Black Energy" showcases not only Álvarez but also the imaginative ambit of bassist David Sánchez and bassist Jorge Fernández who help enhance the dynamic force of the composition. The trio sets up a bop air underlined by Sánchez and Fernández, as Álvarez unleashes lines that grow in intensity. His jagged volatility ratchets the impact and provides fallow ground for Sánchez, who lets his bow carve a myriad impressionistic patterns on the bass. Fernández has to be given that final bit of acknowledgment for his rhythmic instincts that drives the pulse with bristling potency.
Freedom is not always on call. "Chimeco" has a beguiling Latin melody and it's wonderful to see Álvarez stay in the groove, as it adds another dimension to his musical personality. He slowly lets the melody take different shapes without shattering the framework even when he goes into a hardier métier. The contrast is telling and captivating.
The gentle, sedate plucking of the bass is the messenger for "Super Cluster," before the trio comes out swinging. The nimble rhythm section provides the bedrock for Álvarez, who works on a strong melody. He loosens up a bit more, but the strength of his tenor saxophone is undiminished as he soon enough turns his lines inside out as they get a harder grain. His change of pitch is seamless as he changes tacks and ups the ante with torrid permutations.
FAS Trio is certainly deserving of attention for its well-crafted music.
Track Listing: Mirando Al Oriente; Cuidades Ancestrales; Copal; Black Energy; Macuilxochtl; Chimeco; Laudes; Super Cluster.