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Silence could be the fourth member of the group responsible for the cooperatively derived Curare, joining the French pairing of reed supremo Daunik Lazro and guitarist Jean-Francois Pauvros with English drummer Roger Turner. As the four cuts are sourced from two live dates some 20 months apart, this cross-Channel aggregation is clearly not a one-off. Lazro may still be best known for his collaborations with fellow reedmen Joe McPhee and Evan Parker, but over a thirty-plus year career he has amassed a substantive discography, to which this is a striking addition.
In spite of the restraint it's not quite lower case improv, as there is too much edge and forward motion despite the lack of melody or steady tempo. Sounds can be largely traced back to their instrumental source. Ultimately the listening experience depends upon the skills and abilities of the participants in sound placement, weight, dynamics and responsiveness. In this regard, it is telling that Lazro and Turner in particular are old hands at this sort of on the fly abstract invention. Pauvros who comes from an avant rock background, by way of association with guitarist Elliott Sharp (he has one track on the Sharp-curated I Never Meta Guitar (Clean Feed, 2010)), nonetheless fits in well.
No one voice dominates. In Lazro's hands, the unwieldy baritone saxophone becomes a vehicle for delicate expression, ranging from the merest whispers and squeaks to throaty croaks and anguished cries. Turner taps, scrapes and thwacks with restrained abandon, while Pauvros' specialty involves taking a bow to his guitar to create subterranean swells and mellifluous rubato, as well as more angular Morse code crackles. Only on the closing "The Eye" do they stray near the jazz vernacular as the reedman's alto saxophone turns almost lyrical over a ticking pulse and sheets of layered guitar. It's all artfully done with a variety of unconventional timbres, which don't repeat and convince as a conversation conducted in an unknown but recognizably coherent tongue with its own grammar and logic.
Track Listing: Marsure; White Dirt; En Nage; The Eye.
Personnel: Daunik Lazro: baritone and alto saxophone; Jean-Francois Pauvros: electric guitars; Roger Turner: drums, percussion.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.