Denis Colin / Denis Colin Trio


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This is a good album from a lesser-known figure of French avant-garde jazz. Denis Colin is a bass clarinetist in the vein of Louis Sclavis (a bit further left of center). His music is essentially written down, even though it leaves room for improvisation. Fluide features cellist Didier Petit -- Colin also performs in his group NOHC -- and drummer Ramon Lopez, who a couple years after this album would begin to record for the British label Leo and reach a wider audience of improv fans. His drumming provides the main energy source for the trio. Petit alternates between mock-bass duties, chord accompaniment, and solos, while Colin leads the group with a gentle hand. The 13-minute "Fly" stands out thanks to varied sections, strong writing, and a well-communicated sense of danger. "Entre Chien et Loup" and "Traveling" feature Lopez on tabla and are somewhat less satisfying, as the clarinetist doesn't convince you of the necessity of this exotic touch. "Veillées" is a beautiful ballad, sparse in its melodic material but very efficient. In the end, Fluide is surprisingly light and easy-listening despite its daring compositions. That works as a plus-minus factor, since it becomes easy to forget that the record is playing.

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