In the very early 2000s, Queen Mab clarinetist Lori Freedman relocated to Montreal and quickly hooked up with the Ambiances Magnétiques crowd. The label released her first solo album in October 2002 (1999's Huskless! featured other musicians on some tracks and consisted for the most part of contemporary compositions). À un Moment Donné (At a Given Time) contains 13 improvisations on bass clarinet and B flat clarinet. Her range of expression is commendable, encompassing Peter Brötzmann's top-of-the-lungs flurries of notes and Wolfgang Fuchs' delicately abstract dances. Without pinning her voice to gender, it must be said that Freedman brings a feminine essence to her instrument. Color and melody win over sheer power or technique (which doesn't mean that she lacks anything in these categories). There is a swing and a tenderness in her playing that isn't found in her male counterparts, especially those from Europe. The album begins with "Roopless," a riveting piece, the most high-energy number of the set. Her bass clarinet twists, screams, and wails in your face, buck-naked. Now that she has caught your attention, the improviser walks down softer roads, occasionally surfing the thin line between tone and texture, as in the beautiful "2B2." "Uglybeautétu" is another powerful piece that evokes a primal scream, brutal yet essential. "Sailor Bears" sees Freedman stripping down her playing to focus on elusive notes squeezed out of her instrument's highest register. This beautiful ending strengthens the intensity of the whole set. There is nothing easy about À un Moment Donné: the music relentlessly calls for your attention, stirring up your emotions in the process. It speaks to you; after the disc stops spinning you feel the need to grab an instrument and answer.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture