Something In The Air: Outstanding Solo Sets

Ken Waxman, The WholeNote, no. 19:5, February 6, 2014

As the strictures of advanced contemporary music continue to loosen, more improvisers are taking advantage of the freedom to experiment. A parallel outgrowth is the number of players of almost any instrument willing to nakedly expose their skills in all solo sessions. Commonplace doesn’t mean accomplished however. Still the best dates, as the CDs cited here, offer original perspectives on the sounds of an individual instrument.

Montreal’s Philippe Lauzier used three studios to record the 12 tracks which make up Transparence as well as coming up with different strategies for different instruments. Heard on bass and half-bass (sic) clarinet, alto and soprano saxophones plus motorized bells, he uses amplification, feedback and multi-tracking to express his unique ideas. Geyser for instance re-imagines the bass clarinet as hollow tube and percussion, swallowing and expelling pure air as he depresses the keys. Au-dessus on the other hand magnifies the soprano saxophone’s usually ethereal qualities into overlapping vibrations, with the next commencing before the previous one has died away. In contrast, alto saxophone feedback on L’object trouvé literally does as defined, managing to direct the echoes back into the horn’s body tube while making each finger motion and breath transparent. The audacity of Lauzier’s skill is most clearly delineated on En-dessous. Here the multi-tracking of four bass clarinets creates more variety among the timbres he exhales, but the intertwined and affiliated trills produced relate without question to the multiphonics he invented for a single horn. (…)

… more improvisers are taking advantage of the freedom to experiment.