The Songlines record label is at the forefront of modern jazz vernacular. Excellent releases by Jerry Granelli, Tiny Bell Trio, Chris Speed, Han Bennink and Dave Douglas attest to the vision which is indicative of this label’s charter. Songlines continues to promote sheer goodness with the Francois Houle 5 “In the Vernacular – The Music of John Carter”.
“In The Vernacular”, is a tribute of sorts performed by the Francois Houle 5 paying homage to the late clarinetist/composer John Carter. Carter’s African-American folklore series resulted in a deep rooted classicism that was markedly innovative for its time. Carter’s concept and execution was spiritually poignant, peerless and acclaimed by critics.
All but 2 compositions here are Carter originals. Houle and trumpet virtuoso Dave Douglas whip through Carter compositions such as “Sticks and Stones” and “Karen on Monday”. Houle’s interpretations of Carter’s material is vivid and imaginative. More so, Francois Houle’s heartfelt translations of these great compositions serve as living testaments to the unique voice of John Carter. His phrasing, lyricism and superior craftsmanship is astounding. Houle’s atmospheric intonation conjures up thoughts of an angel sitting atop a cloud. The delicacy and at times urgency of his clarinet evokes many moods, typifying the variance of this project. Dave Douglas (trumpet), along with Mark Dresser (bass), Peggy Lee (cello) and Dylan van der Schyff (drums) round out the Quintet and perform in glorious fashion. Houle and Douglas launch some ferocious dialogue while Dresser, Lee and Schyff provide sensitive accompaniment throughout the entire affair. The Francois Houle 5 revives the fascinating music of John Carter in a consummate approach. Houle and Co. breath new fire into the legacy of John Carter. Highly recommended.