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Friday, December 2, 2016

Joëlle Léandre - A Woman's Work ... (Not Two, 2016) I

CD1: Les Diaboliques: October 6, 2015, DOM, Moscow *****

By Eyal Hareuveni

Les Diaboliques - Swiss pianist Irène Schweizer, Scottish vocalist (and occasional tap-dancer) Maggie Nicols and French double bass player-vocalist Joëlle Léandre - are the foremothers of the European school of free-improvisation. The three have been working together as a trio for more than 25 years, blending spontaneous improvisations with comic cabaret, throwing into this intense stew elements of South-African jazz, theatrical ploys, delirious humor and operatic tricks, all with a strong feminist and satirical edge.

This live recording is from the first of two concerts that Les Diaboliques played at the DOM club in Moscow. This recording highlights the deep, intimate rapport and the extraordinary, telepathic interplay between these unique and resourceful musicians. It captures the true essence of Les Diaboliques - three highly individual masters, being totally themselves on stage, exploring their differences and their profound affinity, being witty, funny and inspiring.

The trio opens and closes this performance with extended trio improvisations. Schweizer acts on these pieces as the responsible adult who accommodates the hysterical, theatrical games of Nicols and Léandre, including their amusing, gibberish vocalizations, cementing the wild, dramatic interplay with a perfect rhythmic timing and a straight, deadpan sensibility. Nicols and Léandre continue with two intense and highly emotional duets that shift fast between moods - sensual and surreal, energetic and eccentric, spoiled and child-like. The trio improvisation that follows is more contemplative and reserved - in Les Diaboliques terms - but it stresses the immediate manner that the trio move as a tight, perfect unity. Schweizer solo piano improvisation is a magnificent demonstration of her rich, nuanced language that embrace all the history of jazz, from rhythmic-bluesy phrases to more abstract, and open-ended improvisation.

Simply excellent.

CD2: Joëlle Léandre & Mat Maneri duet

By Stef

Léandre likes duets, and she likes duets with a violin. She has made "Les Domestiques" with Jon Rose, "Ecritures" with Carlos Zingaro, "Firedance" with India Cooke, "Elastic" with Théo Ceccaldi, not to mention her duets with cello (Vincent Courtois) and other double-basses (Peter Kowald, William Parker, Tetsu Saitoh, Michael Francis Dutch).

The great thing is that all these artists have their own voice, as is definitely the case with Mat Maneri, whose playing is first of all identifiable from far because of the human voice quality of his sound, his raw bowing, his quiet nervousness, his capacity to create a sense of fluidity despite his short staccato notes that hang together like links in a chain.

Léandre released an album with Mat Maneri in 2004 ("For Flowers") together with Christophe Marquet and Joel Ryan, and I have no idea how many performances Léandre and Maneri had without actual published output, yet on this album the interaction is great. Léandre goes along with Maneri's specific style, and the result is uncomparable with her other violin-bass duets. She goes along with his high intervals, with the short little bursts of sounds, the hesitation, the minimal intense agitation, yet all this without relinquishing this forward flux, this liquid flow without any foundation whatsoever in rhyhm or melody. In contrast of the other duo albums mentioned above, there is more of a conversation here, a parlando style, like a Jackson Pollock painting, with splashes all over the canvas, without inherent structure but resulting in a work of art of substance. And as with the other string duets, it all works well, there is this kind of natural empathy between the instruments themselves, a kind of natural logic to create sounds together.

The live performance was recorded on January 23rd, 2011 at La Java in Paris.

The video below was recorded on Monday this week, at the Eglise Saint-Eustache in Paris, at Joëlle Léandre's 40 Years On The Road celebration.


See all reviews of "A Woman's Work ..."


Heath Watts said...

This is a magnificent collection of Léandre’s work!