16 Francois Carrier OpennessOpenness
François Carrier Quintet
Fundacja Sluchaj FSR 10/2023 (sluchaj.bandcamp.com)

Released 18 years after recording, Openness is three CDs of high-quality improvisation and also a historic document. The two free jazz pioneers, Polish trumpet Tomasz Stańko (1942-2018) and American bassist Gary Peacock (1935-2020), invited to participate in 13 instances of free-flowing sonic exchange by younger Montrealers, alto/soprano saxophonist François Carrier and drummer Michel Lambert, have since died. New York violinist Mat Maneri is still very much alive and the interchange transcendedage and geography. 

Non-hierarchical, each player gets to originate some tracks, with the Québécois on their own for Dance. Otherwise each player sticks to his individual approach, though all bond seemingly seamless throughout. Lambert mostly accents the tracks, the string players move between rugged slices and intricate guitar-like or even sitar-like strokes, while Stańko’s leaps among brassy bugling, grace notes and portamento linearity is heartbeat-quickly matched by Carrier’s double tonguing, flutters and thick smears. One-on-one interaction involves all.

Wide Awake is an instance of this where Stańko’s scatter-shot triplets are met by Maneri’s spiccato jabs, then with interactive vamps from Carrier’s ascending smears, with Lambert’s percussion pumps helping to ease the fragments together by the finale. Insightful is another example as corkscrew reed tones challenge mewling brass lines as swelling string patterns cushion the turn to horizontal tonality.

With more than three hours of music on Openness it’s best to savour each high-quality disc separately rather than trying to assimilate all in one aural gulp.

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Author: Ken Waxman
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