Daunik Lazro

26 Janvier 1988 Vandoeuvre-les-Nancy

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This is a beautiful album and a surprising one when rediscovered in the light of the directions Daunik Lazro, Michel Doneda, and Lê Quan Ninh took afterwards. The latter two in particular are known for their involvement in highly abstract free improvisation (Lazro has kept relatively closer ties to the jazz idiom). This trio formed in Poland (of all places) around a street theater troupe and recorded this session in January 1988. It has the vivacity of folk music from Eastern Europe, plus the immediacy and playfulness of street music. Lazro and Doneda's saxophones (alto and soprano, respectively) lead the way throughout, developing contrapuntal melodies and intertwining solos while Ninh plays off-kilter beats on a drum set consisting of trash cans, Asian percussion, and a wild assortment of mismatched parts. Each musician contributes two compositions and the group steals a Yugoslavian tune ("Prespansko") and a Hindu piece from South India ("Thillana"). Their music parallels the work of Jean Derome and René Lussier at the time, avant-garde jazz crossed with Quebec folk and street fanfare. The compositions leave a lot of room for improvisation, but they are better when tighter. Doneda's "Eos III," 15 minutes long, is overstretched and looses its purpose halfway through, but the other tracks compensate, especially "Paradi Parada, Jelenia Polska" and "Le Souverain Jaune." Fans of Ninh's contemporary classical work with Quatuor Hêlios or of Doneda's solo disc Anatomie des Clefs are in for a surprise with this lively disc.

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