Francois Carrier - alto saxophone, chinese oboe
Rafał Mazur - acoustic bass guitar
Michel Lambert - drums
NOT TWO 928
By Budd Kopman
Unknowable finds Carrier and his long-time percussionist Michel Lambert meeting acoustic bass guitarist Rafał Mazur at the Alchemia Jazz Klub on June 1, 2014 at the recommendation of Marek Winiarski, the owner of Not Two Records. The live, completely unrehearsed set went so well, and felt so intense and present that the musicians went back to the club the next day and recorded the album.
Free jazz is actually a misnomer, and perhaps the term should be scrapped and replaced with "unplanned" or "spontaneous," especially with players like Carrier, Lambert and Mazur. Carrier's style (if you will) borders on the lyrical much of the time, with identifiable phrasing and even at times something approaching tonality; the time and place in which he finds himself dictates the overall mood of his playing at that moment. It is no wonder that he and Mazur clicked, because as can be seen here, Mazur's playing has the similar characteristics of freedom within the boundaries of a tonal anchor. Lambert, who really is a percussionist rather than a drummer, is now able to play off of not one, but two players.
For the ear experienced in this genre, it is easy to appreciate the extremely high level of close interplay that the trio exhibits. Thematic fragments are presented, explored and developed as the music density increases and decreases. Jazz lovers exult in those moments, in whatever style, when everything clicks and the distance between the performers and the listener disappears; this "free" jazz is no different in that respect, and is intensified because there is no rhythmic crutch to hold on to.
For those new to or wishing to explore this style of music making, this preview of the live show is very edifying. Less than six minutes in length, it shows the clear stages of introduction, development, intensification, catharsis and denoument. One way to get inside this music is to direction one's attention to Carrier alone, allowing the others to drift into the background. The logic of the structure of Carrier's lines and their musical development will then become apparent. A second listening, now with attention paid to Mazur, ought to make clear the flow of the music as they respond to each other. Finally, when Lambert is added to the field of attention, his percussive sounds (as opposed to time-keeping) can be heard commenting, supporting and responding to the other two players. Once the trio's aesthetic is comprehended, a track like the title track, which runs sixteen minutes and is more complex can seen for what is: creation emerging from the unknown.
Beauty in music is much more than euphony. With "Unknowable", this trio, at this moment, demonstrates the beauty of spontaneous creation where space and time is transformed, enveloping all who are within its reach and changing them forever.