The program of this release may be shaped around two pairs of tracks from different performances — respectively, at Montreuil’s Instants Chavirés (2008) and Besançon’s Jazz En Franche-Comté (2010) — but the essential suggestion materializing across the 48 minutes of Curare is that of a trio whose purpose resides in filling the interstices between “vibrant connection” and “approximation of stillness”. All the textures identify an interplay that sounds surreptitious, occasionally out-breaking, always refreshing.
Jean-François Pauvros is perhaps the most perceivable instrumental voice in this particular framework. The guitar irradiates the baffling tints to which Daunik Lazro’s baritone and tenor saxophone relates in creating non-serene, almost presageful correspondences. From states of somewhat worrying tranquility they overlay electric surges, bizarre animal utterances, gentle string-slides à la Frith and animated-yet-controlled reed bursts. They frequently join the lower ends of their palettes with stretches that would be considered positively even by certain drone zealots (check the mixture of thrilling roar and Coltrane-ian invocations in “The Eye”). When the waters are calmer, we can appraise the tasteful sensibility of Roger Turner’s work as he underlines, inspects and pinpoints, never losing his grip on what his French comrades are fabricating. The percussionist offers a performance of such a cultured refinement that it risks being overlooked among the music’s more evident traits. Yet the man’s command of the subtleties of a drum set in an improvisational context is a treat for specialist ears.
The whole is probably too “obscure” — for lack of a better word — and intelligently devised to be included in the current era’s top ranks. However, if you don’t believe the hype, this is a testimonial of significant insight by three unsung artists hiding brightness behind a veil of discretion.