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Schizosphere

Artist: Francois Houle
Francois Houle - Schizosphere CD
Label: Red Toucan
Regular Price: $15.95
On Sale For: $7.98 
Year: 1994
Format: CD

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One of Vancouver clarinetist Francois Houle's first albums, Schizosphere features two of his earliest musical accomplices, guitarist Tony Wilson and drummer Dylan van der Schyff who was only beginning to get noticed outside of his hometown at the time. The set contains five Houle compositions, one from the guitarist, three free improvisations, and a very personal rendition of Duke Ellington's "Frustration." There is not much left of the original song: Houle focuses on a single phrase turned into an insisting circular leitmotiv. Wilson's "Lowest Note," here recorded for the first time, has a jazzier, less cluttered feel than the definitive version heard on his CD by the same title (2001, Spool). But the album's highlights are Houle's pieces, particularly "Fractus" and "Strange Attractors," both bouncing tunes relying on tutti melodies. The latter is dressed in a fancy Middle-Eastern get-up. Later a pillar of the West Coast avant-garde jazz sound, here the clarinetist limits the chances he takes, remaining for the most part in tonal, melodious jazz (as on his "Prayer"). But, coming from a classical background, he eschews the usual solo shticks and cliches, delivering a convincing performance, although he had yet to reach his prime.
ARTISTS
Francois Houle (clarinet, soprano sax); Tony Wilson (electric guitar, aktira, khaen); Dylan van der Schyff (percussion)
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