Daunik Lazro


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European saxophonist Daunik Lazro has begun to make a name for himself in France by recruiting just the right sidemen for his ambitious projects. Utilizing soprano and tenor, Lazro is a supreme lyricist, though not in any conventional sense. His notions of melody and harmony are developed from the underside of jazz improvisation and composition, where counterpoint, interval, and technical invention intertwine to create harmonic vistas that are both intimate and expansive. On Dourou, bassists Didier Levallet and Paul Rogers lend their hands simultaneously for this rhythmic orgy of tonal inquiry, and drummer Christian Rollet keeps the mix flowing as he communicates across the bass-ic terrain, keeping the pair in constant rhythmic and harmonic convergence. The front line consists of Lazro on saxophones and Joe McPhee on trumpet. Here is where things get knotty. McPhee's relationship to his bassists is a complex one. On "Africa Lab," both bass players turn into syncopation machines, alternately playing pizzicato and bowing their tonal stretches in order to displace time and pitch. McPhee smatters and spatters notes along the rhythm line and occasionally winds himself around Lazro, who takes to blowing through the middle to create dynamic tension -- and over the course of 20 minutes that's exactly what happens. On McPhee's "Malachi," trumpet and saxophone play opposite ends of the color spectrum to find not a gray area in between, but a bright yellow or red as the basses double-time Rollet, who accents the heck out of each wound, broken line. It's an amazing feat, full of drama, pathos, and a little humor. In all, Dourou is the disc Lazro has been threatening to make all along, one where the pieces come together and then show their seams. This is an avant-garde jazz wonder.

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