In the course of its first 14 years, the label Disques Victo had never gone beyond the single-CD format. It goes to show how important the triple-set Complicité
must have been for label director Michel Levasseur
. Here is the story: The closing concert of the 2000 Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville was supposed to be a solo piano double bill with Marilyn Crispell opening for the legendary Cecil Taylor. Rumors started to spread late in the afternoon that Taylor's plane had been delayed. In order to buy some time, Vancouver pianist Paul Plimley and Toronto saxophonist John Oswald, who happened to be in town as simple festivalgoers, were recruited for an extra opening act. Complicité
dedicates one disc for each part of that evening. The Plimley/Oswald set began with a saxophone solo (a provoking choice!). The best moment is found in "Free" where the two players finally connected and put the energy display aside to take the improv down to a simmer for the last two minutes. Crispell's set is the most surprising, very delicate, tonal, melodious, in the vein of her 2001 CD Amarylis
(fans will be able to hear her "Silence" and Mitchell Weiss' "Prayer" from that album in a solo context here). Her brew of composition-meets-improvisation is lovely on Annette Peacock
's "Gesture Without Plot," almost neo-romantic in its melancholia, but Weiss' "Paris" is simply too sweet for this great lady of free improv -- it would be more suitable on a John Tesh
album. Then comes Taylor, performing a typical set. "Congress" lasts 35 minutes and features his energetic jagged playing with pockets of more subtle moments interspersed. "Meaning" begins with some poetry reading and leads into one of the best pieces on the whole album. Complicité
is highly recommendable, but only to the very open-minded free jazz/free improv fan if one wishes to enjoy all three discs.