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Daunik Lazro and Henri Roger with Benjamin Duboc and Didier Lasserre

Eyal Hareuveni By

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The French double bassist Benjamin Duboc and drummer Didier Lasserre have created together a unique, highly personal language. Their inventive and telepathic interplay can stir emotional storms produced with minimal, almost evasive elements and color any collaboration with vivid, spell-binding moods. Their latest improvised collaborations with baritone saxophonist Daunik Lazro and pianist Henri Roger demonstrate Duboc and Lasserre's greatness.

Daunik Lazro / Benjamin Duboc / Didier Lasserre
Sens Radiants
Dark Tree Records

The French boutique label has released only four albums so far. All are remarkable masterpieces of free improvisation, and its last—Sens Radiants as its first one, Pourtant Les Cimes Des Arbres (2011) (by the same trio of Lazro, Duboc and Lasserre) is no exception.

The title of the 55-minute piece is inspired by a collection of poems by the Belgian-born poet-writer-painter Henri Michaux (1899-1984), "Jours de silence." These poems documented his weekly days of silence and meditation and his spiritual experiences of emptiness and tranquility during these days. This piece was recorded live at the Écouter pour l'instant festival in an old castle, now a protestant church, in in Le Fleix, south-western France, on September 2013.

The trio begins patiently forming a minimalist sound poem that investigates the acoustics of the historic space, the timbres of their instruments and the manner that its sounds resonate within the great acoustics of the old building. Slowly this reserved interplay intensifies and the tension is built. Still, with generous room for solo parts, each expanded extended by the next soloist, all faithful to the melancholic, almost ascetic, atmosphere of this improvisation, that follows the contemplative, inner-searching spirit of Michaux poems.

This arresting interplay features the highly personal vocabulary, the commanding art of these original improvisers and the manner that this trio articulates a profound emotional experience with almost minimalist means. Lazro tells thick tales, breathing, moaning, talking and shouting through his mouthpiece. Duboc and Lasserre create dark storms of sounds, employing inventive techniques of playing with the bow on the double bass strings, and delicate touches of the snare drum skins and cymbal surfaces.

Benjamin Duboc / Didier Lasserre / Henri Roger
Parole Plongée
Facing You/IMR

Duboc contacted pianist-guitarist Henri Roger after listening to one of his solo piano improvisations and suggested a meeting with him and Lasserre. The three met in the studio in July 2013 for a recording of four free improvised pieces.

The atmosphere throughout the four spontaneous pieces is serene and inclusive, and not bound by any genre, style or convention. The interplay morphs organically between dreamy, minimalist segments to tight and energetic bursts, always maintaining the highly collaborative communication. Roger fits naturally within the telepathic-poetic interplay of Duboc and Lasserre, in its reserved form in the first two pieces, "Sables" and "Altermutations" or in its intense, muscular one in the short "Thé ou Café?."

The last piece, the 16-minutes "Ré-Horizontalisé," enable the trio to play with its lyrical, reserved language on a broader canvas, with more room for solo parts. The trio opts again for minimal, patient articulation of the open-ended outline of this improvisation, offering each soloist to charge the ethereal atmosphere with personal, suggestive colors and captivating moods.

Tracks and Personnel
Sens Radiants
Tracks: Sens Radiants.
Personnel: Daunik Lazro: baritone saxophone; Benjamin Duboc: double bass; Didier Lasserre: snare drum, cymbals.
Parole Plongée
Tracks: Sables; Altermutations; Thé ou Café? Ré-Horizontalisé.
Personnel: Benjamin Duboc: double bass; Didier Lasserre: drums; Henri Roger: piano.


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