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Bruno Duplant, Paulo Chagas and Lee Noyes - As Birds (Re:konstrukt, 2011) ****

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By Paul Acquaro

Though I don't have the numbers on this, I'm fairly certain that there are more bass clarinets in the hands of jazz musicians then before. Lots of variables here to account for, so don't judge my research, just enjoy the hypothesis. Jason Stein, Louis Sclavis and Lucien Dubuis come to mind with little thought, and now do does Duplant/Chagas/Noyes.

Just released as a download from re:konstrut, 'as birds' is described in the marketing as “Some truly free, but listenable duo's and trio's; At the same time classical & nonclassical ... free 'as birds.'" I agree. From the opening crinkling and scratching of 'Hiccup,' this album builds and grows in melodicism and depth as double bass, percussion and the sonorous sounds of varied woodwinds amass and play during the generous heaping of tracks.

Chagas' bass clarinet and sax work is a joy to hear, though I've made my bias clear. Not tempering the clarinet's bestial desire to squawk and rumble, but not relying on it either, he let's the instruments sonorous woody sound reverberate over skittish percussion on the opening 'Hiccup.' The tune 'One hidden green pepper away from the birds' is a great example of the layering of Chagas' improvised circuitous melodies and Noyes' percussive arguments, while not working in lockstep, the layers compliment each other nicely. 'Hush,' begins with a foreboding melody that the drums accentuates and bass tries to contradict, but slowly the three fall into agreement and the song builds.

Overall the 18 tracks on this recording, ranging from a minute and a half to almost six, showcase a wide variety of approaches to creating improvised music that at times almost takes on conventional song structure and other times are compelling soundscapes. The musician's embrace of their instruments in all their wild and wooly beauty and commitment to really listening and react to each other makes for a really enjoyable album.

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This story appears courtesy of Free Jazz by Stef Gijssels.
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