FRANCOIS CARRIER Travelling Lights
Justin Time JUST 203-2 (2004)
Though its instrumentation is of the traditional sax-piano-bass-drums variety, the music on Travelling Lights feels like anything but the usual quartet jazz suggested by such an ensemble. Any one of the players are as likely to take the lead as any other, with the others entering and leaving on different "levels" of sound within the group... it's these constantly shifting sonic hierarchies that make this completely improvised record such a fascinating listen. Drummer Michel Lambert mostly eschews traditional timekeeping in favour of gently propulsive ornamentation, nudging the group's inventions with pulsating toms and cymbal washes. Carrier's alto and soprano saxes soar over and around the structures with a quietly Coltranian authority, and bassist Gary Peacock and pianist Paul Bley fill the spaces in between with inventive interplay. Each track is named for a continent or global mass ("Asia", "Oceania", "Europe") and the idea of the music as territory is explored by the musicians as each takes turn "staking out" his terrain in the tunes. The territories of Travelling Lights are well worth visiting.