This album of solo saxophone recordings from Mexican horn player Remi Álvarez is an engaging listen. A mixture of improvisations and Álvarez’s own compositions, it floats from avant-garde dissonance to whimsical beauty. Yet the transitions between the experimental and the familiar never seem jarring. The whole album is like a suave single malt – smooth in the right places but with a kick to keep things interesting.
Of the 10 tracks, there are four compositions, with rest forming a set of improvisations – all named Intuición – scattered across the running order. This setlist is what makes the album work so well. The old-style boiling kettle squeal of Intuición 1, immediately followed by the emotive lyricism of A la Resistencia, is a knockout combination at the very start of the album. The sequencing is similarly inspired throughout.
The sonic thread that runs through Intuición y Resistencia is the fluidity of Álvarez’s playing. It’s why those switches between the Intuición suite and the rest aren’t jarring. Those bubbling, Rollins-style runs of Lafahmisi aren’t that far away from the exploratory curlicues of Intuición 5, for example, even when that latter piece takes on an increasingly hectic pace as it heads for its final stretch.
The suppleness of Álvarez’s technique is also what gives the record such a darned pleasurable vibe. Listening to it is almost an indulgence. Check out those long, languid notes on A lo que venga. They’re in no hurry. Pour another dram. Float downstream.
Like any good student of the avant-garde, Álvarez deploys the usual extended techniques, the mouthing, the overtones and all that. But even during the wilder improvisatory passages – the waspy buzz of Intuición 6 is a particularly enjoyable instance – they’re kept on a leash, enabling Álvarez to concentrate on a narrower stretch of sonic terrain, summoning up a cascade of notes from the ether and forcing them down through the metal tube of his horn.
As a result, if Intuición y Resistencia doesn’t quite reach the wilder shores of experimentalism of, saya, a John Butcher or a Seymour Wright, there are plenty of other attractions within its borders to keep the curious listener satisfied.