I find that multidisciplinary free music is often one of the most unfairly dismissed genres in jazz. Works like Anthony Braxton’s operatic forays certainly come to mind. They are branded impenetrable in many circles and people don’t even bother to offer them anything resembling serious consideration. I attribute this reluctance to fear.
I’m going to be honest. This new Michel Lambert project is scary. It’s an amalgam of visual artworks (referred to as Lambert’s “visual scores”) and the band’s collective instinctual responses to them. The album is presented as an expedition of sorts, with both the band and listener travelling through 11 distinct audiovisual landscapes. Amazingly, it all works incredibly well. The improvisers not only know exactly how much space to leave for each other, but looking at the score, I was struck by how effectively the music evoked specific images on the score and vice versa with almost supernatural symbiosis.
As I listened, it became apparent that the glue holding the affair together was the expressive poetry of vocalist Jeanette Lambert. It felt like she articulated and/or punctuated my thoughts perfectly, serving as a tour guide. What is a Transmutatoria? Not sure, but taking the journey there has been a real pleasure.