Free jazz is a tough field. It most often turns up as self-indulgent waste propagated mostly by artists who don’t have talent or technique and think free jazz is all about playing whatever you want in any manner you feel at the moment. Nothing could, in fact, be further from the truth. Free jazz is about making relevant musical associations between germ, motive, phrase, style, articulation, timbre, tessitura, etc., with the other musicians in which the artist is involved. To paraphrase the great free jazz guru Evan Parker - free jazz is best when it’s performed by a group of musicians who have been playing together for an extended period of time and have come to create musical associations among themselves. This is the case in the Francois Carrier Trio.
Carrier and his trio of bassist Pierre Côté, and drummer Michel Lambert have now worked and played together for almost 10 years. During that time they have developed a strong sense of ensemble that makes clean musical associations of directed intention. As an ensemble they have a subtle yet strong sense of give and take in following and trading musical fragments among and between each other. Their free flowing musical associations allow for music that is truly reflective and directed from a single mindset.
All but one of the tracks on Play were recorded live during a tour in the fall of 2000. The music, six tracks fully improvised and two based upon compositions by Carrier, can really only be approached as a whole. The different selections move with an effortlessness of line and with abrupt changes in form and emotion that defy words. There is little of the extended harmonics and extra musical elements championed by so many free jazz artists which only serve to turn off listeners - when they are included, however, they serve the music and not a self-serving ego. Standout selections include the two composed compositions which are used as runways for the following improvised departures - "Insomnie" and "La Danse de Grand-Mie." Within each of these flights the group coalesces into a Gestalt (the whole is greater than the sum of the parts) of the first order.
There is little free jazz better than this in the world and the world would be better if more free-jazz artists used Carrier’s, Parker’s and Sam Rivers’ ensembles as their models.