Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Francois Carrier, Alexander Hawkins, Nirguna, John Edwards, Michel Lambert

There are days when life intervenes, when it gets in the way of a set routine. If ever one might get distracted, that would be the case in the last year with the Pandemic and etc. So at some point, today's two-CD set arrived in the mail, I noted it with interest, set it aside and...well here we are and it is later. Never too late, though. I now with close listening realize how interesting, important, good, etc. is this album named Nirguna (ColYaKoo Music). It is a live date from the Vortex Jazz Club in London from June 2017. 

It is a very auspicious gathering of Francois Carrier on alto saxophone, Alexander Hawkins on piano, John Edwards, bass, and Michel Lambert on drums. This is the primo Free Jazz we have come to expect from Francois Carrier, with a most remarkable continuity of total freedom flow, of endlessly inventive lining by the full quartet, tumbling outwards, inspired and without a set pulse, so that the four can take off and soar without the least restriction. 

Nirguna in Hindu religious practice means without form or without qualities. That is quite appropriate in the sense that this music is virtually that, though playing with intention does indeed have some kinds of spontaneous form and qualities, yet here we think in terms of no set form or quality. Just like is implicated in post-Freudian psychoanalytic parlance, where a human utterance "means" sometimes in some possibly unconscious way, so this music also means without setting out overtly to intend, though too it may defy some easy set of words to describe it.

The two CDs carry two long improvisations each. The overflowing four-way output can be torrentially heated, pointillistically jagged, fluidly mercurial and/or percussively insistent. Never for a moment does this music flag. And clearly one feels the instantaneousness of it and it exhilarates in the doing!

The Carrier plus Hawkins, Edwards, and Lambert quartet combination is one of Francois' most productive groups to my mind, most inspired, and the live London club setting seems to add to it so that everyone is set into a freedom that has no end in terms of good spontaneous ideas and interlocking power. Carrier, Hawkins, Edwards and Lambert each turn in remarkable performances in both their intrinsic worth and their ability to respond creatively and intelligently each to the other. And never for a moment do you forget that "this is Jazz" for whatever that means ultimately. Never for a moment is there not a central stream of driving expression.

It is a triumphant performance from first-to-last. If you wonder about Carrier or Free Jazz here is a great place to start, If you already know it is a must nonetheless! Hoorah!

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