Accomplished Canadian bassist Daniel Lessard
offers listeners his latest project in the form of "Barocco"
, fashioned as a set of improvisational pieces connected by instrumental interludes. Lessard penned the original material as well as the group's arrangements. The group, consisting of trumpet (Kevin Dean), trombone (Mohammed Abdul A-Khabyyr), tenor saxophone (Yannick Rieu), bass (Lessard), and drums (Andre White) naturally invites comparison with Gerry Mulligan's various pianoless ensembles. The Mulligan comparison also applies to the Kevin Dean, who largely bases his style on Chet Baker.
Lessard's interludes are primarily minimalist sketches for two or three horns with a sparse bass counterpoint. Lessard's arrangements for the group also generally follow this format, with one horn playing the melody and the other band members contributing simple accompanying or counterpoint lines. "With A Song In My Heart" is almost transformed into a hymn before its treatment as a jazz waltz. "Poinciana" becomes trance-like as a sparse bossa nova. The soloing of the musicians is enjoyable, with Kevin Dean and Rieu's Coltrane-inspired tenor contributing spirited solos on "Easy To Love" and "With A Song In My Heart".
Another interesting aspect of this project is the recording, which was done ambiently by positioning a stereo pair of microphones in front of the band, and utilizing a barn for the recording venue. Fortunately there is no apparent bleed-through of extraneous noise. While this recording technique is sure to instigate love/hate controversy among audiophiles, average listeners may wonder about the off-mike sound of soloists. To its credit, this approach does very closely mimic the sound of a band playing live in a medium size venue.
While the recording technique may not be to everyone's taste, the band produces inspired music and delivers an honest interpretation of Daniel Lessard's unique concept for this CD.