Michel F. Côté (Juste) Claudette

This is one of the ballsiest jazz records to come out of Canada in years. Yeah, that’s right, jazz. Not free improv, not musique actuelle, this is music extrapolated from the free and post-bop period of the late ’60s. There’s a whole lot of soul inside this music, though it’s twisted in all kinds of horrible ways. From the get-go, Cote’s drumming conjures freedom within a groove, and the evil cackle of Jesse Levine’s Sun Ra-like organ parts guarantees that outer space ways are nearer than you think. Alexandre St. Onge’s bass is chunky, playing off the lower range of the organ remarkably well. But Bernard Falaise’s guitar work is breathtaking, sometimes referencing soul jazz, sometimes Sonic Youth and always jaggedly melodic. Cote also adds some sweet and sour pocket trumpet to the action, which can be funky or just choppy, depending on what’s going on. The slower pieces provide a much-needed break; the Morton Feldman-inspired "Descente Centrale” shows off some abstract prettiness by all. Although these songs are typically less than four minutes long, sometimes they descend into nondescript, though aggressive, bluesy shuffles, taking a half point away from this record’s overall score. Due to these players’ very experimental reputations, I must say I’m surprised they had this record in them. This is recommended unconditionally to all instrumental rock fans. (Ambiances Magnétiques)