One of the numerous merits of Ernesto Rodrigues’ Creative Sources has been, over the years, that of introducing this reviewer to brilliant players who somehow weren’t granted a proper attention on these shores. Take for example pianist Marjolaine Charbin: born in France, mostly working between Brussels and London, classically trained, a former student of Dave Douglas, Evan Parker and Joëlle Léandre, collaborations with several important names in the grassland of improvisation. With such a curriculum, I had never heard of her before, which is a shame in consideration of what was found in Kryscraft, a duo with equally unfamiliar Belgian alto saxophonist Frans Van Isacker, who’s also received good advices by artists at the level of Barre Phillips, Hayden Chisholm and Jean-Luc Guionnet.
The CD is not overly radical, yet for sure demonstrates the musicians’ finely tuned ears as far as the understated exploration of the character of an instrument is concerned. Both prefer to work “inside” their respective tools rather than exposing all they’ve learnt. The highlighting of appealing resonances in the piano’s body seems to be the primary focus in Charbin’s actions, however when she decides to let us know how skilled fingers sprint on the keyboard – track 4, there are no titles – we realize that the talent is not limited to an unnatural choice of narrow palettes. Van Isacker, too, steers clear of the many routines that saxophones can yield in nowadays’ EAI. Though he does occasionally employ the moist elements of the mouth/reed axis, the concern shown while visiting more stimulating regions – comprising sophisticated noises, quarter-tone refinement and genuinely physical pitches held everlastingly – ultimately prevails.
In essence, this is a record whose misleading caginess reveals instead a number of admirable insights. The fact that the music appears honest, discreetly stylish in a way and absolutely worthy of a further deepening of some of its aspects doesn’t hurt, either.