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What the critics are saying:
...Open Spaces, released just weeks after his [Dewey Redman's] death in September, is a sometimes staggering, sometimes bewitching disc. ...The tone and texture of the performance is pure, driven free-improv. There are three long quartet performances, open and swinging and filled with harmonic reference points you can grasp. The 68-year-old Redman was in exquisite form these nights: commanding and bold and absolutely relentless. His voice, immediately recognizable, stands apart. ...together, Redman and Carrier are a fine match. On "Going Through" they create a lattice work of sombre blue lines. It's a majestic, off-the-cuff dirge that grows into a mass of action. Soon, the rhythm section's raw, pulsing energy gives their connection a marvelous energy."
The time-honored tradition of an accomplished jazz artist traveling alone, hooking up with like-minded musicians far off the beaten path, and creating music that approaches or belongs in the first tier of the artist’s recordings, is alive and well on Open Spaces. Alto saxophonist François Carrier, drummer Michel Lambert and bassists Michel Donato and Ron Séguin (Donato plays on one track, Séguin on the other two) were more than ready for Dewey Redman on these 1999 performances, recorded live in Québec. They understood that the tenor titan needed little prompting – a pulse, a riff, a notion of a mood – to become engaged and quickly take the music upstairs. On “Going Through,” it is a plaintive Carrier line that Redman latches onto; on the title track, it’s a half-speed boppish phrase. Regardless of the starting point, Redman glides in when the music approaches a simmer, giving his cohorts a boost without saturating the music. Still, “With The Flow” is perhaps the most revealing track of the date. Redman and Séguin begin with a pensive dialogue that builds with the entries of Carrier and Lambert, culminating in an exciting, thoroughly collective statement. Therein lies Redman’s solution to the intrinsic proposition of these situations: How does an artist make an audience feel they have gotten a fulfilling, truly representative performance, while giving his collaborators full franchise? Keep it open; let it build; let everyone flag their flag at the summit. Generosity is not a prerequisite of greatness in jazz; but, it is a common trait among jazz’s greats, including Dewey Redman. This rewarding album is ample proof.
— Bill Shoemaker.
Point of Departure
With Open Spaces, Francois Carrier has given us an opportunity to hear him paired with the magnificent Dewey Redman, recorded over two nights live in Quebec City in 1999. Carrier's usual drummer, Michel Lambert, provides powerhouse support on both nights, while bassist Michel Donato plays on track one and Ron Seguin on tracks two and three. This release, which was also mastered and produced by Carrier, is essentially a homage to Redman.
Redman, who died last September at the age of 75, did not gain as much recognition as perhaps he should have, but he was acknowledged as one of the most versatile tenor players around. His most notable associations were with Ornette Coleman from 1967-74 and with Keith Jarrett's "American" quartet in the early '70s.
The music on Open Spaces is by turns extraordinarily beautiful and physically exciting, and it seems to these ears that Carrier, although himself a master of free improvisation, follows Redman's lead. Indeed, there are times when it is hard to tell who is playing when Redman is at the upper end of his tenor and Carrier the lower end of his alto.
The free playing here is audibly tonally and thematically centered. "Going Through" opens with one of the most beautiful rubato lines you will ever hear by Redman (I think). All is mystery, softness and warmth, with a bit of danger added in. "Open Spaces" starts with a jaunty, humorous theme, again by Redman (I think), while "With The Flow," which sounds like Carrier's answer to Redman's first theme, brings back the first track's wide, deep silences.
Not only are the front-line players totally in sync, but the bass and drum playing is always very sensitive and supportive. Lambert has been with Carrier a long time and has a sixth sense when to lay back and when to push the group forward, either by erupting or locking in with the bassist in sections that can raise the hair on your neck.
All About Jazz
Jazz lost one of its giants when the great Dewey Redman passed away on September 2. The tenor saxophonist was a man of enormous vitality and soul, and his presence will be sorely missed. Fortunately technology's magic includes the ability to keep music alive, and Redman can always be heard on a myriad of released and hopefully soon-to-be released CDs.
Open Spaces is compried of three improvised songs culled from a series of 1999 concerts in Quebec City, featuring Redman, Francois Carrier (alto saxophone), Michel Donato and Ron Sequin (bass) and Michel Lambert (drums). The song titles—"Going Through," "Open Spaces," "With the Flow"—convey the spirit of the music and its feeling of spacious fluidity. The twenty-minute "Going Through," a loose, colorful song with a joyful spirit, starts off the CD. The two saxophones interweave beautifully and the length of the song allows each horn player the opportunity to stretch out. Redman is at his melodic best, combining snippets of old New Orleans with an absolutely modern improvisational sensibility.
"Open Spaces" has a funky, playful melody and conveys a unique blend of exploration and gratitude. You really get a sense that the musicians are enjoying themselves, which always takes the music to another level. "With the Flow" starts off with a stately Redman solo and again features intimate conversation between the saxophones. The song evolves in rhythm and speed, with the drums and bass setting up a fabulous propulsive drive that allows Redman to sing and soar.
The tunes on Open Spaces are generous in both length and spirit and provide a welcome immersion in Dewey Redman's soundscape. The disc is a good introduction to Redman, as well as another addition to his rich and powerful body of work.
All About Jazz