Dream teams do not necessarily turn out to be worthy of high expectations. If there is no empathy and the players do not feel that invisible electric impulse, all can be lost. But that is not the case here. Michel Lambert has been the drummer of choice for Fran'ois Carrier and there is a natural exchange of ideas between them; they know
each other, which makes a difference. Paul Bley and Gary Peacock, on the other hand, are chameleons; they blend in with any situation, adding their own, well, colour to the proceedings. In tandem, all four create musical landscapes, seascapes, continents and what have you on this journey that startles, stuns and captivates.
All the music is improvised but the take-off point is laid by all four. Peacock's "Americas," heralded on the cry of Carrier's alto sax, is heeded by the bassist, who switches and shifts pitch and tempo. Shift is the watchword. The restlessness and the tumult come in the cry of the alto, the rumble of the bass and the fluttering urgency of Lambert's drums. But the "Americas" are not all seethe and simmer; there is calm and repose and a lovely melody that make the change compelling. The volatility of "Europe" is spurred by piano, bass and drums. The heat serves its purpose, but it is the quieter moments, particularly the conversations between Lambert and Peacock, that stand tall as they weave ideas into meaningful dialogue. With Carrier scooping the wellspring of emotion on the soprano saxophone, the effect of the tune is considerable.
Bley, by any means, is an exemplary pianist: daring, innovative, resonant, thoughtful and shorn of excess. He works his lines into the fabric and gives them dimension without being obtrusive. When he is upfront, as on "Island," he sets up a little jig, adds lithe chords before pegging them down as he seeks melody, injects it and then deconstructs and constructs again. He goes as his fancy takes him and his fancy is certainly of worthy note.
The fact that Carrier can funnel melody and mould it is evident on the largely reposeful "Oceania." The tune unveils at a gentle pace as the four lock in smoothly. The lines are precise but Carrier marks them with some deep cuts on the alto. Variety not only adds the spice, it drives them into an up-tempo whirl close to the halfway mark, the waves coming back to capture before the music ebbs.