Maikotron Unit - Ex Voto (Jazz from Rant, 2011) ****


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By Paul Acquaro

From Quebec, the Maikotron Unit refers to themselves as 'mythic' in some of their press material. Now, the 'mythic' may refer to the elusive maikotron, a reed instrument with a range that dips below that of the bass saxophone, or perhaps it is related to the scope or origin of their mission, which is “dedicated to research in New Music." Regardless, the trio has been together for over 26 years but this year's “Ex-Voto" is their first release on CD (and online).

The combination of reeds, like the maikotron and the bass clarinet give the unit a sonic palette rich with deep hues with which to work. Pierre Côté's bass and Michel Lambert's percussion provide both definitive grooves and more textural undercurrents as Michel Côté bounces around with melodies that embrace free jazz and pays homage to past masters and keeps up with current trailblazers. Snippets of melody may recall post-bop, just as much as Eric Dolphy, and others on the fringes of jazz.

“Ex-Voto" is an album to enjoy the sound of the instruments, luxuriate in the woodwind tones and nod to the rhythms. The 20 short themes that make up the album range from one to five minutes and are like stanzas in a poem, each one able to stand alone but more meaningful when taken together.

Mythical or not, the existence of this album is at least some fleeting proof, like a grainy still of a Sasquatch, that can keep the believers satisfied for a good long time.

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This story appears courtesy of Free Jazz by Stef Gijssels.
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