Don't you love it when a plan comes together? Even if the plan is totally improvised, as is that of Unwalled. The album is the first meeting between Canadian alto saxophonist François Carrier and German-born pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach. The free jazz pioneer Schlippenbach was the founder of the Globe Unity Orchestra back in 1966, and it featured Peter Brötzmann, Peter Kowald, Han Bennink, Derek Bailey, Paul Lovens and Evan Parker, to name just a few of the future legends of improvised music. Parker and Lovens would later join the pianist to create the celebrated Schlippenbach Trio.
Carrier has been a prolific improvising saxophonist who can nearly always be found in the company of fellow Canadian drummer/percussionist Michel Lambert. Together the pair have toured and recorded dozens of discs in duo and trio settings. They have also added pianists such as Bobo Stenson, Uri Caine, Paul Bley, Alexey Lapin, Alexander Hawkins and Steve Beresford. Where those keyboard artists often act as the yin to Carrier's yang, Schlippenbach performs a more complementary or reciprocal role. Perhaps it is the generational divide between saxophonist and pianist (some 24 years) that explains the lack of antagonism here.
Their cooperation, the close association between Carrier and Lambert, plus the always masterly hand of British bassist John Edwards, makes this a noteworthy outing. The studio session is comprised of five lengthy plus two brief improvisations. What is conspicuous here is the space the quartet leaves in each of these tracks. They chose to present bright and unobstructed interactions with plenty of space presumably because each musician was deeply listening to the others. Schlippenbach's sound can be described as that of Cecil Taylor as performed by Thelonious Monk. He operates both inside and outside of the piano, just as Edwards and Lambert utilize all elements of their instruments. All this allows the saxophonist to whisper and shout as he paints tonal pictures set against maybe the finest rhythm section he has ever assembled.
Unwalled; Empty Mess; Full Feel; The Play of What Is; Yes Road; Unification; Open End.
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