Le Querrec: Carnet de Routes

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This recording from the West African tours of the Romano/Sclavis/Texier trio in the early '90s is one in a series of three. That this band played in Africa and was documented by photographer Guy LeQuerrec (who suggested the tour to the various African arts councils in the first place, and is credited here with playing "Leica") was remarkable in and of itself. There were many better-known trios and quartets at the time, but the music Romano/Sclavis/Texier made as a result of Africa's inspiration is nothing less than mindbending (and the packaging that comes along with this disk and its partners too). This trio, with Sclavis' soprano saxophone and clarinet on the front line, Texier's lower-than-low contrabasse, and Romano's drumming, which is reminiscent of an even more sophisticated Ginger Baker (Romano plays with the power of a rock drummer with all the sophistication of Max Roach or Elvin Jones), is an almost overwhelming entity on this recording. Elements of not only jazz in all its configurations but funk, French folk music, West African griots, and the melodic influence of the late Johnny Dyani from South Africa all boil down into one intense pot of musical empathy and innovation. These cats are all composers who know the strengths of each their band members. When melody lines come off Sclavis' horn and are tied in separate octaves to Texier's bass playing, creating a new chromatic color to the proceedings, such as on "Bororo Dance" and "Flash Memoire," listeners get to hear music in the process of being created from nothing but the abilities of its makers. This is a trio that owes nothing to Sonny Rollins but perhaps something to Steve Lacy's trio and Pierre Doerge's New Jungle Orchestra. This band swings like a vine and jams like they are on a bandstand in a small club in front of a full audience of other musicians.

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