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Baron/Denzler/Guiionnet/Rives: Propagations

Mark Corroto By

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Fans and readers of the popular books by neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks know that the brain reacts to sounds in numerous ways. From his book Musicophilia (Knopf, 2007), we learn of a woman who has seizures from the folk music of her country, and of comatose patients that are reanimated by song. Sacks tells us that it can be melody that invigorates the brain; but it can also be simple pitch, tone, and texture.

Maybe that is why this part-minimalist, layered saxophone quartet outing is so inviting. Not that it entices you with melody as much as simple sonic textures, overlapped and smeared into almost pure emotion. The players—Marc Baron (alto), Bertrand Denzler (tenor), Jean-Luc Guionnet (alto) and Stéphane Rives (soprano)—pursue extended technique, breath, whistles, tones, and the machine-like sounds of their pads and mouthpieces.

Luckily, we have moved beyond the discussion of whether this is music. Certainly it is sound, and patient listeners can obtain a listening experience here. Even impatient listeners (friends and spouses) gain some insight, as these sound textures envelope you and draw your attention to this happening of sound.

The quartet puts on a clinic of technique, expanding the saxophone into—seemingly—the electronic world. They create sound (try and figure how they do some of this) that, at times, feels more percussive; and in many instances, as if it were being processed through electronics. It is, for many listeners, a portal into new and varying ways of listening while opening different reaches of the brain.


Track Listing: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3.

Personnel: Marc Baron: alto saxophone; Bertrand Denzler: tenor saxophone; Jean-Luc Guionnet: alto saxophone; St

Title: Propagations | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Potlatch Records

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