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Nada by Francois Carrier and Michael Lambert

Although this is ostensibly a free recording, and it is in fact totally improvised, the palette that the two long-time collaborators are working with here is explicitly tonal and accessible. Carrier has been known as a pretty expansive live player, a direct descendant of St John Coltrane, but here the focus is on compactness and abbreviation. There are twenty tracks total, ranging from a around 45 seconds to as long as six minutes, with most running under two minutes. The idea is to condense the ideas (of which there are many!) as much as possible, a haiku instead of a sonnet. Also, the duo take each new piece as a chance to explore a different angle or texture. The casual listen, however, may not easily show when one improvisation ends and the next one begins, instead sounding like a longer, thematically linked suite. Or something.

Both Carrier and Lambert are stellar, if a little polite. If you're expecting Frank Lowe and Rashied Ali, you'll be taken aback by the gentleness of touch here, as Carrier's nepali flute and soprano playing evokes zen music, not unlike some of Dave Liebman's work. When he switches to alto he tends to get a little more robust, which makes a nice contrast. Lambert's light touch is incredibly refreshing, even as he explores places off the beaten track (both players are credited with their instruments as well as other "objects"). At times, like on "Unknown," there are snatches of sweet melody, and always the use of space is exquisite. Thankfully, things never get ECM-ish, as I could imagine happening pretty easily with this spacious approach to collective improvisation, instead maintaining an integrity and spiritual approach (like the best ECM discs of course) without falling into the new-agey-ness of the lesser output of that great label. This is very high level music making.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Francois Carrier and Michael Lambert
  • CD Title: Nada
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: Creative Sources Recordings
  • Musicians: Francois Carrier (alto and soprano saxophones, nepali flute, objects), Michel Lambert (drums, objects)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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