Rafal Mazur / Ramon Lopez / Percy Pursglove

September 21, 2018


Not Two MW 973-2

François Carrier/Michel Lambert/Rafal Mazur

Beyond Dimensions

FMR CD 477

Starting from one of the unlikeliest locations, Krakow, and concentrating on one of the unlikeliest of instruments, the acoustic bass guitar, Polish improviser Rafał Mazur is building an international career. He’s done so by constantly venturing out of his musical and geographical comfort zones, collaborating not only with local players, but those from a variety of countries. These emblematic discs show how his cerebral conceptions and unerring rhythmic sense are utilized in singular situations.

An out-and-out Free Jazz session, Beyond Dimensions links the Polish bassist with two Canadian players, alto saxophonist François Carrier and percussionist Michel Lambert, who are anything but insular having organized ensembles in locations ranging from London to St. Petersburg. Gentler and melodic, but with an appropriately unbending core, Threefold matches Mazur with Spanish-born, Paris-based percussionist Ramon Lopez and British trumpeter Percy Pursglove.

Almost literally hitting the ground running, Carrier & Co. are involved in protracted improvisations, whose raison d’être is fracking and extracting every scintilla of tone, pitch and tempo from each breath, expanding it to its fullest – as well as shrinking it to mere traces –and moving on to the next pattern. Throughout the performance, Lambert’s hammered clanks and rhythm coloration enter the program exactly when needed while the bass guitarist’s thumping continuum both accompanies and eggs on Carrier’s fervent and euphonic timbral examination. Although there is a laconic respite to the frenetic pace with “Namagirl”, where the saxophonist’s stuttering and wavering timbres are processed in a moderato form backed by the bassist’s slinky string pulls, it’s merely an interlude among the multiphonic free-for-all that characterizes the rest of the performance.

Tracks such as “Open Dream” and the title track percolate at the boiling point and get more heated and fragmented as they evolve. Introduced by sluicing bass guitar runs and drum splashes and rebounds, the first quickly works up into a narrative of ferocious reed hardness, with jagged flutter tonguing sharing space with further reed smears, snorts, cries and tone munching. Should Carrier bellow vocally like a Japanese shaman at a religious ceremony besides expelling freak notes and extending his tone examinations to their limits, Mazur’s buzzing thumps ground the expositions, keeping the necessary flow as well as stepping forward at points for appropriately moderated solos. With the theme properly deconstructed, the final sequence finds Carrier’s output turning more supple and tender, notwithstanding inner aleatory rumbles that suggest the final volleys of lava expelled by a cooling volcano. The ultimate theme variations dovetail with Mazur and Lambert’s complementary skin and string pumps. Expressly speedy the reed bricolage expelled by Carrier on “Beyond Dimensions” is expressed in cracked altissimo timbres. Again however, Mazur’s broken-chord construction mirrors, mutes and manipulates the theme as it accompanies the saxophonist. United with Lambert’s hard clunks, the piece condenses into a climatic finale.

Proceedings are more low-pressure on the other disc, perhaps due to the physical architecture of a trumpet verses a saxophone. At the same time Pursglove often favors a mellow, muted interface, replete with grace notes that notch alongside Lopez’s variegated percussion tone and Mazur’s string pops and pumps. Throughout these calm interludes on the 10 tracks more-often-than-not add up to balladic movements, whether the trumpeter’s brass arabesques and tonguing burble in a straight line, backed by clattering drums as on “Pintura 10”; or as on “Personnage, Etoile” when powerful grace note from Pursglove create a melodic interface with complementary percussive rhythms from both bassist and drummer.

A twist in the stable tone occurs on the Lopez’s composed “Bacchanal”, where tabla-like pressures from the drummer are heard alongside expected Jazz drum rhythms, Mixed with a funky bass line from Mazur, the lead from the trumpeter includes a brassy bugle-like upsurge and eventually brass crescendos. This change of pace also affects “The Garden of Earthly Delights” and “The Daughters of Catulle Mendes”. These penultimate improvisations easily flow into one another as carefully paced drum shakes and resonating bass runs provide space for Pursglove’s tonguing deep into this horn’s body tube so the result allows for both telltale smears and story-telling. A drone is evident on “The Daughters of Catulle Mendes” so that the perception is that the repeated pattern is emanating from all three players simultaneously.

Energetic or laid-back it appears that Mazur’s skills can be adapted to fit many improvisational situations.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Beyond: 1. Open Dream 2. Namagiri 3. Unseen 4. Beyond Dimensions

Personnel: Beyond: Francois Carrier (alto saxophone); Rafal Mazur (acoustic bass guitar) and Michel Lambert (drums)

Track Listing: Threefold: 1. Three Musicians 2. Personnage, Etoile 3. Three Women at the Spring 4.Au Lapin Agile 5. Pintura 10 6, Bacchanal 7, Musical Party 8. The Garden of Earthly Delights 9. The Daughters of Catulle Mendes 10. The Fourth Estate

Personnel: Threefold: Percy Pursglove (trumpet); Rafał Mazur (acoustic bass guitar) and Ramon Lopez (drums and percussion)