21-year-old drummer/composer Xavier Lecouturier has been making a definite impression on the jazz scene in Seattle. As a student at Cornish College of the Arts, he made his way to jam sessions, and acquainted himself with the best players in town, eventually landing in the quintet of trumpeter Thomas Marriott. His debut album as band-leader, Carrier is a collection of compositions forged during this period of rapid self-discovery.
Lecouturier is surely the driving force behind this recording, but there is a collective feel to the record, with major contributions from guitarist Lucas Winter, pianist Gus Carns and bassist Ben Feldman as both musicians and composers. Marriott is part of the collective as well, adding a veteran presence to the proceedings, along with the young and talented Roosevelt grad, Santosh Sharma on tenor saxophone and EWI.
The opening "Aube" is a Lecouturier selection that features Sharma and Winter carrying the melody between the layered harmony of Carns, Feldman, and Lecouturier. Winter's single note melody line and subsequent solo highlights his major contribution to the session. The same can be said about the title track, with the album's most memorable melody contained within.
Winter's "Striations" features Sharma cutting loose on EWI, and Winter's rapid-fire single note solo filtered into workable parts by Lecouturier's vibrant playing, and Carns' loose fitting, tasteful harmony.
Lecouturier's "Waiting" features trumpeter Marriott's trademark tone, and melodic sensibility, accentuated by a fine bass interlude from Feldman. A more orchestral feel comes across during Feldman's very modern sounding composition, "Event Horizon."
While each tune has its unique qualities, there is a collective commonality between them that establishes an expression of intimate space and time, reflecting this period of both self-awareness, and community association. Carrier is not only a brilliant beginning for Lecouturier, it is a standard to be upheld by a collection of fine young players we should be hearing from often down the road.