261

Michel Lambert: Le Passant (The Wanderer)

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Michel Lambert: Le Passant (The Wanderer)
The usual meeting place of improvisation and orchestra works around firm structure where the improvisers solo within the rigid confines of the orchestral arrangements, or the orchestra acts as an underlying support, scored in and around pre-existing extemporization. But in rare cases, daring composers have found ways to allow improvisers to remain untethered while at the same time broadening the sonic palette with a larger ensemble. Howard Shore's collaborative soundtrack with Ornette Coleman for David Cronenberg's film Naked Lunch was one such case.

But even in the case of the Shore/Coleman soundtrack there was an underlying form, a feeling of cooperation between two seemingly disparate aesthetics. In the case of Canadian percussionist/composer Michel Lambert, rather than finding a place where the two can coexist, on Le Passant he emphasizes contrast by making the meeting of free improvisation and contemporary composition a confrontational affair. It's a challenging conceit, and one which largely succeeds because Lambert has lived in both worlds, with a family steeped in classical music, an educational background including time at both Conservatoire de Musique de Québec and Boston's Berklee School of Music, and private studies with saxophonist David Liebman and pianist Misha Mengelberg.

The five-movement, thirty-minute "Le Passant suite sometimes seems to defy conventional logic, despite having an inner relevance. "Le Miroir de la Vérité begins with a short duo between Lambert and saxophonist Ellery Eskelin, a surprisingly centrist piece of spontaneity. But before long Lambert is alone, building a brief maelstrom of percussion that leads into the ten-piece chamber orchestra's first appearance, with Caroline Lizote's harp and a curious combination of flute, bassoon, French horn, and tuba reminiscent of the sometimes chaotic through-composed work of the late Finnish drummer Edward Vesala. Dissolving into an improvised duet between bassist Dominic Duval and violinist Malcolm Goldstein, the piece concludes on a more ethereal orchestral note, filled with long tones and darker dissonances, bringing to mind composers like Ligeti and Penderecki.

The balance of the suite moves through a variety of moods and textures—most jagged and angular. The bass/violin duet beginning "L'éternal Errant segues into another sax/drums pairing, with the orchestra entering for the final minute, bringing the controlled chaos of Naked Lunch to mind. Lambert's confrontation between the two musical universes creates an ongoing feeling of displacement that rarely resolves, with contrast created out of continual shifts between dense and spacious.

The album finishes with seven improvisations inspired by "Le Passant, ranging from Lambert's brief solo "Ruffians, Riffraff and Raffs to duos and trios with Duval, Eskelin, and Goldstein. Perhaps most intriguing is "Passagers Perdus, where the chamber orchestra explores a more unfettered environment—evidence that the traditional barrier between improvising musicians and classical performers is no longer applicable.

With inherent conflict defining the majority of Le Passant, it's a very demanding listen. Still, while Lambert's divergent views of free improvisation and contemporary composition do indeed make strange bedfellows, they can work together to create a challenging but rewarding and genre-busting work.

Track Listing

Mirror of Truth: Eternal Errant; Labyrinth of Remorse: Spiritual Shock; Pilgrimage of Humankind; Running in the Cave; Quib; Extracting Lines; Pretend Make-Believe; Ruffians, Riffraff and Ruffs; Lost Passengers; Cue 9-3, Recalling the Wanderer.

Personnel

Michel Lambert: drums; Dominic Duval: bass (1-6,7,11); Ellery Eskelin: tenor saxophone (1-6,8,11,12); Malcolm Goldstein: violin (1-6,7,9,11); orchestra (1-5,11,12).

Album information

Title: Le Passant (The Wanderer) | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Rant

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read Brazil
Brazil
Mike Barone Big Band
Read Liga Latina
Liga Latina
Liga Latina
Read The Call Within
The Call Within
Tigran Hamasyan
Read Light In The World
Light In The World
Nocturnal Four
Read A Time And A Place
A Time And A Place
Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.