All sorts of jazz, free jazz and improv. Never for money, always for love.
French baritone saxophonist Daunik Lazro begins his new solo disc, Some other Zongs, with McPhee’s “Vieux Carré.” Lazro and McPhee have an association going back to the 1980s, so it’s a fitting tribute that opens this record. It’s a soft, wistful and in Lazro’s hands, somewhat funny melody, the big horn equally caressing and ambling about the tune’s folksiness before the saxophonist grabs a handful of notes and twirls them with facility. Contrary to its original version on soprano, Lazro chomps, squeals and furrows into an epicenter that, at first blush, one might not be aware that “Vieux Carré” had. But that gentleness, power, and prowess are all sides of the master to whom Lazro pays homage. “Caverne de Platon” is as intense as its title, Lazro exhorting from shadowy depths toward naked, pure and shocking sound. The four “Zong at Saint-Merry” explorations begin with spare harmonic tendrils and ghostly reverberation, increasing in density and daring toward the seventeen-minute closing movement. The baritone saxophone is an instrument usually associated with the bottom end, though Lazro sculpts high-pitched squeaks and complex passages that, far from being merely blurred squall, present athleticism against laid-bare vistas. While saxophone solos are, by dint, “unaccompanied,” rarely does the existential “alone” come through in such a powerful way as on Lazro’s Zongs.
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