CONVERGENCE / LOZANO-MG: My Steps. Era. Hurry Up. Furtive Thoughts. Stablemates. Salut d’amour. Quick Fix / Frank Lozano, t-sax; Gentiane MG, pno / Multiple Chords Music MCM046
Ottawa-born Frank Lozano, who studied with Pat LaBarbara and Jerry Bergonzi, teams up here with the younger Montreal pianist Gentiane MG (Michaud-Gagnon) to create an album of freely improvised jazz, but their aesthetics are far different from such outré duos as Ivo Perelman and Matthew Shipp.
Where Perelman and Shipp fly into the atmosphere of atonal jazz, trying to create form out of the formless, the Lozano-MG duo is rooted in traditional jazz rhythms and melodic lines that sound at least somewhat similar to the standard jazz styles of the 1950s. In other words, the music they improvise on has more form in both melodic lines and harmony than their atonal counterparts. Lozano does not squawk and squeal overtone high notes while MG stays within the general framework of what one heard from such pianists as Lennie Tristano. This gives their pieces a clearer frame of reference for the listener to hang onto.
Considering the more conventional nature of these pieces, then, it’s a bit surprising that they chose not to include a percussionist of some sort, but they clearly provide a good sense of swing all by themselves. This is largely achieved through rhythmic accents, some from Lozano but most from MG. Perhaps they felt that adding a drummer would make their music sound even more conventional than it really is.
Listening carefully to these tracks, I found that MG’s improvisations were a bit more adventurous than Lozano’s. The saxist plays very much in the Jerry Bergonzi style, which is certainly not a bad one but tends to stay within a certain range of ideas, whereas MG takes more unexpected turns of phrase.
The CD is beautifully recorded, the microphone placement being fairly close to the instruments while still giving us a little bit of resonance around them—just perfect. This increases the intimate feel of the album, particularly on a ballad like Era. Occasionally, as in a piece like Hurry Up, the music seems to be built from the rhythm up rather than from the melody down, and on this track in particular Lozano extends himself a bit more than usual to produce a really interesting solo. Salut d’amour is a surprisingly nice ballad, with Gentiane playing the opening chorus solo before Lozano comes in over her.
Quick Fix opens with an extended chord played by Gentiane as Lozano improvises around it, then the pianist, before the tempo picks up to become a rather complex tune with the piano’s left hand constantly playing syncopations against the right. The piece then moves into somewhat more conventional rhythm and harmony for the development.
A fine little album with interesting tunes, interestingly played.
—© 2020 Lynn René Bayley
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