Canadian reedman Francois Carrier and drummer Michel Lambert enjoy a fertile alliance. They first met back in 1998, when they invited the great Dewey Redman to join them. Since then they’ve waxed no fewer than 12 discs either in duet or together with other guests and collaborators. On The Joy Of Being they team up with Polish bassist Rafal Mazur, for the second time after Unknowable (NotTwo, 2016), in a live date from the esteemed Alchemia Club in Krakow. Together they navigate through a program of six on-the-fly collective ventures in free jazz style.
Carrier’s alto saxophone aerobatics reside at the heart of the recital. He displays remarkable command of expressive distortion, overblowing and deployment of harmonics. He’s particularly adept at sliding between notes and rarely settles on a conventional tone. As might be expected given the length of their association Lambert’s drumming, which is light, tappy and focussed on timbre and pitch, never overwhelms the discourse, in spite of occasional bursts of heavy but responsive accentuation. On the acoustic bass guitar (it looks like a guitar with an extended neck) Mazur’s nimble woody pizzicato imparts momentum and maintains a busy constant counterpoint.
Finely tuned interplay predominates across each of the six cuts, which sound as if excerpted from a longer performance. The threesome upholds a spacious, transparent approach, in that everyone’s contribution is clearly audible notwithstanding the near continual activity. The title track opens proceedings, establishing the template of conversational dialogue between Carrier’s accomplished alto and limber loose bass and drums.
Towards the close Carrier varies his palette by introducing pinched squeaky toy sonorities on Chinese oboe, an effect which reappears on “Blissfulness” and “Mystery Of Creation.” That apart, all three instruments explore a similar dynamic range, which makes the exceptions like the end of the latter number where Carrier pits his slow, near lyrical, alto lines to contrast with the chattering drums and bass, all the more notable.