Daniel Humair

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At first blush, the odd man out might appear to be the American, Ellery Eskelin, who is rarely heard as a sideman. Those who appreciate the saxophonist's splendid recordings as a leader will not be disappointed, though this disc highlights a somewhat less radical if still compelling side of his playing. Marc Ducret, Bruno Chevillon, and leader Daniel Humair are longtime colleagues, and together they form one of the most impressive power trios around. The addition of the hard-hitting Eskelin only makes sense, and he proves himself capable of fitting in without any difficulty. Humair often favors a rock-tinged sound, which Ducret obliges on guitar with some very impressive licks. The level of intensity is not equal to that of some of the ferocious freestyle groups, such as those led by Peter Brötzmann, and Humair shows a sensitive, creative side in addition to a more aggressive one. Nonetheless, these fellows know how to turn it up, and they do so gracefully and potently. Although Humair is not well known in the States, he has played and recorded with a seemingly endless stream of talent, and this outing with Eskelin is one of the best representations of his abilities. One disappointing aspect is that Eskelin is held back slightly, though the trio makes up for that with a tight, focused concept that shows it means business.