Nicolas Masson plays tenor saxophone that crosses boundaries between contemporary and progressive avenues of jazz similar to American peers like David Binney or Chris Potter, just slightly on the harmonic side of Rudresh Mahanthappa. His fluid dynamics make the music accessible, but just biting enough on the edge. With a quartet dubbed Parallels, and recorded in Zurich, Switzerland, Masson takes thematic and conceptual ideas as the Thirty Six Ghosts title implies, sometimes elusive and occult, sometimes friendly and dancing. With Colin Vallon exclusively playing the Fender Rhodes electric piano, Masson taps into the retro feel of jazz-rock in the '70s with drums'n'bass music of now. The ethereal "La Phasme" or "Arsenic" cover the seen/unseen side of late-night sounds, while the lugubrious "Sentinel" has a long tone, and a stretched-out feel that challenges the imagination. More static, deliberate beats are heard on the funky fusion of "Hellboy," but near the end of the CD, selections such as the pretty but macabre "Bermuda" and the sideways-slow, then amped up "Yeah Baby" give Masson license to add more meat to the motion. Acoustic bassist Patrice Moret and drummer Lionel Friedli more than do their duty in creating rhythmic and harmonic soundscapes that inspire Masson and Vallon, but create the frameworks for their musical drawings. Certainly a sleeper on the overall modern music scene, Nicolas Masson and this quartet deserve a close listen, and a few more similar projects.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos