Francois Carrier Trio Live in Russia

John Eyles By

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Back in September, the review of Inner Spire (Leo, 2011) by the Québec duo of alto saxophonist Francois Carrier and drummer Michel Lambert with Russian pianist Alexey Lapin, closed with the words "This is an impressive debut from a fine trio. Let us hope a sequel follows soon."

Shortly after that review appeared, news leaked out of not one but two sequels to Inner Spire, and now they are both released. While Inner Spire was recorded in Moscow on December 19 2010, by the following day, the scene had shifted to St. Petersburg where All Out and In Motion were recorded on 20 and 21 December respectively. So, these two new releases complete a neat three-day trilogy.

Francois Carrier, Michel Lambert, Alexey Lapin

All Out



At JFC Jazz Club in St Petersburg, the three musicians carry on where they left off the day before in Moscow. Straight away, all are in full flow. As before, the music is entirely improvised, but it would be difficult to detect that if it were not spelt out on the album sleeve. Largely that is due to the saxophone playing of Carrier, who is able to spin out fresh melodic phrases seemingly at will without repeating himself. Having played such a phrase, before moving on he will then play around with it like a kitten with a ball of wool, exploring its possibilities and avenues for development at length, a process that is very satisfying to listen to, leaving a pleasing sense of closure.

Carrier and Lambert are a long-standing partnership and this is revealed in the ways in which the drummer effortlessly shadows the saxophone step for step, always driving things along, generating variety and enhancing the drama of the music. When the two play together at full tilt—as on "Wit," which kicks off with a solo barrage from Lambert—the resulting tumult is awe-inspiring and thrilling.

To come into a trio alongside such a tight pairing cannot have been easy for Lapin, but the pianist manages to hold his own as an equal member, reacting and responding with contributions that are just as vital a strand of the group sound as those of the saxophone and drums.

Francois Carrier, Michel Lambert, Alexey Lapin

In Motion



Recorded at ESG-21 experimental sound gallery in St Petersburg, In Motion captures the trio on its third consecutive day in another different venue. As such, alongside the recordings of the preceding two days, it makes interesting listening. Was the players' energy and enthusiasm showing signs of waning? Did they fall back on well-established playing habits? Did they produce fresh music? In order, the answers to those questions are no, no and yes.

The three recordings are very different, each having its own individual sound and dynamic, but they are recognisably by the same group consisting of three distinctive stylists who interact and mesh well together. As on the other days, In Motion contains contrasting moods and emotions. Although there is plenty of up-tempo, unrestrained blowing—notably on "This Grand?" which centres around a prolonged piano solo—that is balanced with more sedate passages laden with emotion and pathos. So, on the poignant "Is He...," Carrier's tone and phrasing subtly convey feelings of sadness and loss, ably supported by delicate brushwork from Lambert and chording from Lapin.

There is no point recommending just one of the three releases from this trio. They hang together well as a coherent trilogy that documents the meeting of this excellent threesome. The only sensible recommendation can be to listen to all three albums one after the other.

Tracks and Personnel

All Out

Tracks: Blaze; Wit: Standing: Distance: Ride; With It; Of Breath.

Personnel: François Carrier: alto saxophone; Michel Lambert: drums; Alexey Lapin: piano.

In Motion

Tracks: This Grand?; Is He...; All of a Sudden; About to Go; Love in Space.

Personnel: François Carrier: alto saxophone; Michel Lambert: drums; Alexey Lapin: piano.

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