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Daunik Lazro - Some Other Zongs

Stuart Broomer, Point of Departure

The French saxophonist Daunik Lazro is one of his instrument’s great explorers, but in North America he is a significantly under-known musician. First recording with bassist Saheb Sarbib in the 1970s, Lazro has roots deep in free jazz, though his associations in succeeding decades have generally been further into the terrain of free improvisation. He has had particularly fruitful, long-running musical associations with Joëlle Léandre and Carlos Zingaro, and in 1995 toured and recorded in a trio with Joe McPhee and Evan Parker, company to which he is perfectly suited. This recent CD, with Lazro in solo, presents him as a dedicated baritone saxophonist, mining the instrument’s resonance with a rare profundity.

One is free to associate Lazro with his roots or his explorations. He begins the solo CD Some Other Zongs with the only composition to be found on either of these recordings, Joe McPhee’s “Le Vieux Carré.” It’s a deep blues that reaches well past McPhee and the usual free jazz sources to go directly to Harry Carney (that primordial circular breather whose 100th anniversary on April 1, 2010, occurred just a few days prior to the recording), the grain of Lazro’s sound initially almost as warm and pure as Carney’s own before Lazro gradually attenuates it to include some harsher timbres and some multiphonics as well. The remarkable “Caverne de Platon” can invoke a very different baritone saxophonist, Werner Ludi recording himself inside the Lucendro dam. Lazro is a genius of sonics, attenuating high and low multiphonics as layers of pitch appear and disappear in his extended notes (as a sonic baritone saxophonist, Mats Gustafsson may be his closest kin for the sheer life in the airy spray of harmonics). Each of the succeeding “Zongs” develops its own character: “Zong at Saint-Merry 3” might suggest a pod of whales; the broad-ranging “Zong 4” hints at a baritone shakuhachi (ringing in the Grand Canyon). [...] Lazro is a special improviser, with a unique identity.