Delphine Dora, Bruno Duplant, Paulo Chag - Onion Petals As Candle Lights [Wild Silence - 2012]This is a finely-wrought, impressionist free-jazz release from a somewhat precious, but otherwise well-meaning trio.
Although the key descriptor here might be “languid,” even that seems to imply some serpentine liquidity that almost consistently eludes players Dora (piano, inside and out), Duplant (double bass) and Chaglas (clarinet). Instead, listeners are treated to meandering woodwinds, almost random piano tinklings, and the upright bass soundtrack to someone falling down slowly. At times—particularly in the opening cut, “To Dream Of Rain,”—it doesn’t seem as if the performers are in the same room as one another. Eight short cuts later, “Olive And The Lizard” returns to the same problematic, dispassionate playing. While there’s certainly room in free jazz for skronk-free, contemplative works, “Onion Petals As Candle Lights” simply seems to fill up space, like coats in a closet. Nevertheless, some moments hint at greater possibilities.
The reviewer-bait entitled “On A Topic Of Boredom” puts a spidery piano line alongside effective whinging lines from Chaglas, with Duplant’s plucked comments popping up here and there along the way. A bustling sort of chord sequence from Dora gives the piece a sense of movement, a life that is mostly absent—or at best, stilled—elsewhere. If you happen to see them live, pick up the album; otherwise, it earns 2.5 out of 5 stars….but as we don’t do half it gets a 3.