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Boiron/Chevillon/Gastard - Là

Ken Waxman, JazzWord


With a novel flourish, French saxophonist Baptiste Boiron builds his collection of mostly originals conception using an idiosyncratic variant of reed-and-rhythm trio. Boiron, who moves between improvised and notated sounds, links textures from his soprano, alto or tenor saxophonist with those of bassist Bruno Chevillon who works with Yves Robert. Instead of adding a drummer, guitarist or pianist however, bass saxophonist Frédéric Gastard, who has worked with Marc Ducret, completes the line-up. Taking full advantage of the bass sax’s multiple pitches it’s used for its rhythmic function and for its ability to harmonize with the other woodwinds.

The latter skill is expressed as early as the title track where the bass saxophone’s tongue slaps and snorting snuffles creates an echoing ostinato upon which Boiron’s multiphonic japes are highlighted. Joined by double bass sweeps, the ululating percussive lines contrast distinctly with altissimo squeals from the soprano saxophone. Gastard’s other function is expressed on “trace de Fard Gris” where Dixieland-like bottom is cemented by Chevillon’s thick pulse, allowing overblowing and circular breathing from each sax to wrap around one another.

These connections and contradictions are fully explored during the two-CD’s 16 tracks. Although there are unique variations in a trio of Jazz classics, more germane are interpretations of Boiron’s originals. Included are the bassist’s supple guitar-like strokes on “Bander brutal”, and more crucially the swells and slices he creates on “B-Choir nu, l'envol”, which is mostly a solo feature. Eventually broken up with squeaky tongue slap and trills from the two saxophonist, the low-pitched exposition displays Chevillon’s concentrated string buffing from sul tasto emphasis to resonating pumps and finally focused plucks. Other tunes range from those propelled with marching band jollity, euphonious timbres that judder on near-bugling peeps or more somber and thinner narratives.

Double the length of any individual track at almost 15 minutes, “Dur trac Mec” is designed as the session’s cornerstone. Intensifying a stop-time exposition which is also exhibited on other compositions the narrative is extended with mid-range horizontal variations from interlaced reed snarls. The bassist’s wide-spaced thumps keep the piece ambulatory as the reed extrusions stabilize into staccato alto saxophone peeps and thick lowing from the bass sax. Combining with string strums, the tune climaxes in layered cohesion.

While two versions of “Lonnie’s Lament” and “Le sourire à travers les larmes” seem unnecessary judging from the group’s equal facility on all takes, overall proves Boiron’s skills as soloist and composer. Plus Gastard goes a long towards finding niche in improvised music for his elephantine saxophone.