Looking for a definition of musique actuelle? How about taking it from this CD of emotive Tango and Klezmer-inflected Free Music played by an expatriate Argentinean and two Québécois?
The emotive tone of this notable disc is set by former South American native and European traveler Damian Nisenson, who plays sopranino, alto and tenor saxophones here and composed all the tunes save one traditional melody. Still, its precise shape is assured by Pierre Tanguay’s robust but perceptive drumming and the controlled potency of Jean Félix Mailloux’s pizzicato bass work.
Although joyous freylach–like melodies are evident throughout, overall the tunes are played with an underlying catch-in-the-throat sadness. A constricted gullet doesn’t stop Nisenson from honking, double- tonguing or pitch vibrating. Yet even the sing-song Klezmer clarinet channeling in his piercing sopranino solos buttress the compositions’ nomadic allusions.
Paspire, for instance may have a funky bass line and Nikadance a four-square drum backbeat. But on the former Nisenson’s serpentine, vibrating tongue stops references a Middle Eastern ney and on the later murmuring wide intervals and altissimo reed runs relate to Eastern European country dances. Paspire climaxes with double counterpoint from the plucked bass and vibrating slurs from the tenor, while the other piece’s side-slipping tongue slurs make room for unrefined guitar-like picking and spiccato strokes from Mailloux. Elsewhere Tanguay contributes minute bell ringing, cymbal taps and marital ratcheting.
No translation is provided but it would seem Muzika can be defined as outstanding and sympathetic musique actuelle trio music.