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Nicolas Masson|Travelers

Travelers

Nicolas Masson

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After two albums with the cooperative trio Third Reel (2013's self-titled offering and 2015's Many More Days), Swiss reedman Nicolas Masson steps out as a leader with his own touring quartet, which has been together for more than a decade as Parallels. The group here features pianist Colin Vallon -- himself a bandleader and recording artist for ECM, bassist Patrice Moret (a member of Vallon's groups, and with the pianist in Elina Duni's quartet), and drummer Lionel Friedli. Masson composed all nine tracks, but it becomes obvious from opener "Gagarine" that drawing attention to himself as a soloist was never his intent -- group interplay is his M.O. The rumbling lower register piano notes, whispering cymbals, and contrapuntal bassline offer an Eastern-tinged modal exercise with a mysterious rhythmic flow that hints at diffuse but rumbling energy underneath. "Fuchsia," with its elegantly lonesome piano intro, is a ballad that adds more onto its lyric with every pass through the chorus. Set in waltz time, Moret and Friedli guide the frontline players through a labyrinthian exchange, increasing ever so slightly in dynamic as it develops. "Almost Forty" displays exquisite communication between Moret and Friedli in its limpid articulation. Vallon's solo builds a bridge to, then extrapolates on the theme. On its final vamp, Masson urges Vallon to enter deeper waters. The saxophonist solos with warm, moody tones drenched in dark emotion. "Philae" is introduced in the abstract with single bass and piano notes scattered through the foreground. Friedli enters on the wood and metal of his kit before Vallon finds the chord that prompts Masson's entrance. The group's dialogue shifts it to a more dynamic focus as a bass vamp, elliptical pianistic flurries, and percussive embellishments open an almost formless center. When Masson enters, a literal groove is established as the track alternates between avant-ritualism and post-bop. "Wood" finds Vallon playing a single-note line -- like a telegraph key introducing the remaining players. Drawn in by his exercise, Moret finds a harmonic center, Friedli shimmers his sticks along cymbals and snare, and Masson delivers a modally erected melody on the fringes. It's a revelatory showcase for the intuitive communication this group is capable of. Masson's music here is deliberate, even consciously slow in its development, because it is a music of discovery first. There are no unnecessary flights of fancy, and the group-think sound serves to underscore the ambiguities in the hearts of Masson's tunes -- they are possibilities, not ends in themselves. The music on Travelers is committed, focused, democratic. It uncovers its secrets slowly, but offers the listener a singular experience in discovering and absorbing them.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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Travelers

Nicolas Masson

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1
Gagarine
00:03:05

Manfred Eicher, Producer - Nicolas Masson, Composer, Clarinet, Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Patrice Moret, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Colin Vallon, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Lionel Friedli, Drums, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Lara Persia, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2018 ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

2
Fuchsia
00:07:03

Manfred Eicher, Producer - Nicolas Masson, Composer, Clarinet, Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Patrice Moret, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Colin Vallon, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Lionel Friedli, Drums, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Lara Persia, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2018 ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

3
Almost Forty
00:07:26

Manfred Eicher, Producer - Nicolas Masson, Composer, Clarinet, Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Patrice Moret, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Colin Vallon, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Lionel Friedli, Drums, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Lara Persia, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2018 ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

4
The Deep
00:04:05

Manfred Eicher, Producer - Nicolas Masson, Composer, Clarinet, Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Patrice Moret, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Colin Vallon, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Lionel Friedli, Drums, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Lara Persia, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2018 ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

5
Travelers
00:03:43

Manfred Eicher, Producer - Nicolas Masson, Composer, Clarinet, Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Patrice Moret, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Colin Vallon, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Lionel Friedli, Drums, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Lara Persia, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2018 ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

6
Philae
00:07:20

Manfred Eicher, Producer - Nicolas Masson, Composer, Clarinet, Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Patrice Moret, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Colin Vallon, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Lionel Friedli, Drums, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Lara Persia, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2018 ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

7
Wood
00:05:31

Manfred Eicher, Producer - Nicolas Masson, Composer, Clarinet, Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Patrice Moret, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Colin Vallon, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Lionel Friedli, Drums, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Lara Persia, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2018 ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

8
Blurred
00:04:58

Manfred Eicher, Producer - Nicolas Masson, Composer, Clarinet, Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Patrice Moret, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Colin Vallon, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Lionel Friedli, Drums, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Lara Persia, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2018 ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

9
Jura
00:06:57

Manfred Eicher, Producer - Nicolas Masson, Composer, Clarinet, Saxophone, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Patrice Moret, Double Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Colin Vallon, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Lionel Friedli, Drums, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Lara Persia, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2018 ECM Records GmbH, under exclusive license to Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin

Album Description

After two albums with the cooperative trio Third Reel (2013's self-titled offering and 2015's Many More Days), Swiss reedman Nicolas Masson steps out as a leader with his own touring quartet, which has been together for more than a decade as Parallels. The group here features pianist Colin Vallon -- himself a bandleader and recording artist for ECM, bassist Patrice Moret (a member of Vallon's groups, and with the pianist in Elina Duni's quartet), and drummer Lionel Friedli. Masson composed all nine tracks, but it becomes obvious from opener "Gagarine" that drawing attention to himself as a soloist was never his intent -- group interplay is his M.O. The rumbling lower register piano notes, whispering cymbals, and contrapuntal bassline offer an Eastern-tinged modal exercise with a mysterious rhythmic flow that hints at diffuse but rumbling energy underneath. "Fuchsia," with its elegantly lonesome piano intro, is a ballad that adds more onto its lyric with every pass through the chorus. Set in waltz time, Moret and Friedli guide the frontline players through a labyrinthian exchange, increasing ever so slightly in dynamic as it develops. "Almost Forty" displays exquisite communication between Moret and Friedli in its limpid articulation. Vallon's solo builds a bridge to, then extrapolates on the theme. On its final vamp, Masson urges Vallon to enter deeper waters. The saxophonist solos with warm, moody tones drenched in dark emotion. "Philae" is introduced in the abstract with single bass and piano notes scattered through the foreground. Friedli enters on the wood and metal of his kit before Vallon finds the chord that prompts Masson's entrance. The group's dialogue shifts it to a more dynamic focus as a bass vamp, elliptical pianistic flurries, and percussive embellishments open an almost formless center. When Masson enters, a literal groove is established as the track alternates between avant-ritualism and post-bop. "Wood" finds Vallon playing a single-note line -- like a telegraph key introducing the remaining players. Drawn in by his exercise, Moret finds a harmonic center, Friedli shimmers his sticks along cymbals and snare, and Masson delivers a modally erected melody on the fringes. It's a revelatory showcase for the intuitive communication this group is capable of. Masson's music here is deliberate, even consciously slow in its development, because it is a music of discovery first. There are no unnecessary flights of fancy, and the group-think sound serves to underscore the ambiguities in the hearts of Masson's tunes -- they are possibilities, not ends in themselves. The music on Travelers is committed, focused, democratic. It uncovers its secrets slowly, but offers the listener a singular experience in discovering and absorbing them.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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