Reviews that mention Joëlle Léandre

February 23, 2017

Judson Trio

An Air of Unreality
Booklet notes for RogueArt ROG00073

French double bassist Joëlle Léandre’s relationship with American musicians is analogous to that of French general the Marquis de Lafayette’s to the nascent Americans army during the American Revolution. After establishing her career in notated music in Paris, Léandre spent time at the Center for Creative and Performing Arts in Buffalo, NY familiarizing herself with the currents of improvised and aleatory music prevalent upstate and in nearby New York City. Just by chance Léandre arrived stateside in 1976, the 200th anniversary of the signing of the American Declaration of Independence. In a curious parallel her sojourn was the double bassist’s declaration of independence from the conventions of European so-called classical music. Like Lafayette, whose championing of the liberty and equality he experienced in the 13 Colonies provided some of the intellectual underpinnings for the French Revolution, the concepts Léandre internalized in the United States, mixed with many of her own ideas, subsequently helped define free music in Europe. MORE

February 18, 2017

NPR’s 11th Annual

Jazz Critics Poll Ballot
2016

•Your name and primary affiliation(s)

Ken Waxman: Jazzword.com The New York City Jazz Record; Whole Note

•Your choices for this year’s 10 best New Releases listed in descending order

1. Alexander Hawkins Trio Alexander Hawkins Music AH 1001

2. Anna Webber’s Simple Trio Binary Skirl Records 033

3. Michael Formanek Ensemble Kolossus The Distance ECM 2484

4. Artifacts Reed-Reid-Mitchell 482 Music 482-1093

5. Umlaut Big Band Euro Swing Vol. 2 Umlaut UMFR-CD18 MORE

February 18, 2017

Tiger Trio

Unleashed
Boklet notes for RogueArt ROG00074

Although double bassist Joëlle Léandre’s music has always been as French as the Eiffel Tower, for four decades she has been open to collaborations with improvisers from other countries, especially the United States. So it’s no surprise to find her partners on this Paris concerto pianist Myra Melford and flutist Nicole Mitchell, who are both now based on the US West Coast. Without putting too fine a point on it, the sonic affiliation displayed with this Euro-American trio also mark another theme which the bassist has bolstered over the years: championing the profound skills women musicians can express in improvised music. Although Léandre has throughout her career made it a point to perform with players of many nationalities, ages and genders – ranging from elders such as guitarist Derek Bailey and saxophonist Daunik Lazro to then-tyros like clarinetist François Houle and violinist Theo Ceccaldi – some of her most outstanding work has been in the company of other female performers or in all-women bands. The best-known entity of course is Les Diaboliques, the long-running trio she pilots alongside pianist Irène Schweizer, and vocalist Maggie Nicols. But her sessions in the company of other sophisticated female sound experimenters encompass meetings with such innovators as violinist India Cooke, percussionist Danielle P. Roger, pianist Marilyn Crispell and singer Lauren Newton. MORE

January 24, 2017

Joëlle Léandre/Théo Ceccaldi

Elastic
Cipsela CIP006

Daniel Erdmann’s Velvet Revolution

A Short Moment of Zero G

BMC CD 239

Like a young actor who appears to be in many TV shows and movies at the same time, violist/violinist Théo Ceccaldi suddenly seems to be everywhere in the European improvised music scene, especially in France. Not only is the Orléans-born Ceccaldi a member of the Paris-based Orchestre National de Jazz, and leads own ensembles, but he’s commonly tapped to work in other groups led by the likes of violinist Régis Huby, guitarist Ronny Graupe and saxophonist Alexandra Grimal. Extending his range, these high-quality small-group efforts find him in sympathetic if widely different company. MORE

October 16, 2016

Joëlle Léandre 10

Can You Hear Me?
Ayler Records AYLCD-146

Never content to stand still – often literally – French double bassist Joëlle Léandre’s music can be likened to the epistemological studies of pre-modern scientists. From her beginnings she didn’t feel that mastery of any one discipline meant she had to abjure from others. She demonstrated that by sidestepping from interpreting scores to improvising. During almost four decades she has usually expressed her skills in smaller ensembles. Now with Can You Hear Me she has turned to a large scale composition, played by a 10-piece orchestra. MORE

August 16, 2016

MMM Quartet

Oakland/Lisboa
RogueArt Rog-0063

Starting late in the past century and moving speedily into the new millennium the acceptance of Free Music has been such that what was formerly a so-called difficult subsection of Jazz and notated music has become a standard part of many musicians vocabulary. Improvisation is now taught at the post-secondary level, with symposia and revues dedicated to it

Acceptance doesn’t mean popularity however. While many musicians give lip service (sic) to the concept, few commit most their career to free playing. Observing profound improvisational strategies used by the MMM Quartet compared to some others is like comparing the exertions of young composition students to the achievements of Les Six. None of the veteran four are experimental music dilettantes. Plus, as another indication of the application of aleatory texture, not one was ever a straight-ahead Jazz musician. Alvin Curran, who plays piano, synthesizer and samples here is an academic and so-called classical composer, best-known for his membership in Musica Elettronica Viva; guitarist Fred Frith, now teaching at Mills College, is associated with Avant-Rock bands like Henry Cow. Over the years saxophonist Urs Leimgruber moved from the Jazz-Rock band OM, to concentrate on avant sounds alongside the likes of bassist Barre Phillips. Concurrently after specializing in the interpretation of compositions by John Cage and others, bassist Joëlle Léandre plungd full form into Free Music, hooking up musically with other explorers from pianist Irène Schweizer to reedist Anthony Braxton MORE

February 1, 2016

Léandre/Delbecq/Houle

14 rue Paul Fort, Paris
Leo Records CD LR 731

Joëlle Léandre/Benoît Delbecq/Carnage the Executioner

Tout Va Monter

Nato 4757

Disciplined laboratory experiments are often amended by substituting one element in the formula, leading to unforeseen results. More volatile, group improvisations can become startling heterogeneous when a single element component is altered, even though the result may be just as memorable.

Take these two live sets recording nine month apart by Paris-based tone instigators bassist Joëlle Léandre and pianist Benoît Delbecq. Like groomed trail and bushwacking skiers, they’re equally open to playing with proven partners or striking out in new directions. Thus 14 rue Paul Fort, Paris is a rough gem of near-chamber improv uniting the two with Vancouver clarinetist François Houle, who each has recorded with in the past. A leap into the unknown, Tout Va Monter is an earlier interaction among both and American beat boxer Carnage the Executioner, who usually works with rapper Desdamona as Ill Chemistry. MORE

February 1, 2016

Joëlle Léandre/Benoît Delbecq/Carnage the Executioner

Tout Va Monter
Nato 4757

Léandre/Delbecq/Houle

14 rue Paul Fort, Paris

Leo Records CD LR 731

Disciplined laboratory experiments are often amended by substituting one element in the formula, leading to unforeseen results. More volatile, group improvisations can become startling heterogeneous when a single element component is altered, even though the result may be just as memorable.

Take these two live sets recording nine month apart by Paris-based tone instigators bassist Joëlle Léandre and pianist Benoît Delbecq. Like groomed trail and bushwacking skiers, they’re equally open to playing with proven partners or striking out in new directions. Thus 14 rue Paul Fort, Paris is a rough gem of near-chamber improv uniting the two with Vancouver clarinetist François Houle, who each has recorded with in the past. A leap into the unknown, Tout Va Monter is an earlier interaction among both and American beat boxer Carnage the Executioner, who usually works with rapper Desdamona as Ill Chemistry. MORE

January 1, 2016

NPR’s 10th Annual

Jazz Critics Poll Ballot
2015

Ken Waxman (The New York City Jazz Record, Jazz Word)

NEW RELEASES

  1. Roscoe Mitchell, Celebrating Fred Anderson (Nessa)
  2. Daniel Carter-William Parker-Federico Ughi, Navajo Sunrise (Rudi)
  3. François Carrier-Michel Lambert-Rafal Mazur, Unknowable (Not Two)
  4. Anna Webber, Refraction (Pirouet)
  5. Tim Berne, You've Been Watching Me (ECM)
  6. Evan Parker, Seven (Victo)
  7. Samuel Blaser, Spring Rain (Whirlwind)
  8. Akira Sakata-Giovanni Di Domenico-John Edwards-Steve Noble, Live at Cafe Oto (Clamshell)
  9. James Falzone & the Renga Ensemble, The Room Is (Allos Documents)
  10. George Freeman & Chico Freeman, All in the Family (Southport)
MORE

December 6, 2015

Spunk & Joëlle Léandre

Live in Molde
+3dB Records +3dB021

Sonic Communion

The Bridge Sessions 01

TBS 01

Already established as one of the most accomplished bassist in Free Music on her own or with regularly constituted ensembles, Paris-based Joëlle Léandre also prides herself on fitting into new situations. Like a journalist capable of writing features and hard news with equal facility, Léandre whose playing partners have ranged from composer Anthony Braxton to French saxophonist Daunik Lazro, the bassist is both a willing participant as well as a distinct personality in these quite different group sessions. MORE

December 6, 2015

Sonic Communion

The Bridge Sessions 01
TBS 01

Spunk & Joëlle Léandre

Live in Molde

+3dB Records +3dB021

Already established as one of the most accomplished bassist in Free Music on her own or with regularly constituted ensembles, Paris-based Joëlle Léandre also prides herself on fitting into new situations. Like a journalist capable of writing features and hard news with equal facility, Léandre whose playing partners have ranged from composer Anthony Braxton to French saxophonist Daunik Lazro, the bassist is both a willing participant as well as a distinct personality in these quite different group sessions. MORE

November 6, 2015

Giving birth to sound: women in creative music

Renate Da Rin, William Parker (editors)
Buddy Knife Publications

By Ken Waxman

When six-year-old piano student Alexandra Grimal wrote her first composition, her teacher refused to believe her, angrily insisting her older brother must have written it. Now a saxophonist, Grimal had a similar experience when she was 13 and premiered her first jazz piece for a friend’s mother. That woman too refused to believe it was original.

Anecdotes such as these in part illustrate the difficulty women have being accepted as serious composers and performers – even in so-called creative music. Giving birth to sound examines these circumstances through the first-person experiences of 48 musicians. Residing in Europe or the United States, the respondents are involved with improvised, notated, electronic and world music and remarkably candid about their musical lives. Still the volume is neither academic study nor practical hand book. The interviewees answered 20 questions and their replies are printed without comment. However, since the queries are as pointed “has being a women held you back in the development of your musical career” and “do you think you paid a price being an artist” or as broad as “what is magic” the worth of each entry varies. Some are direct and to-the-point; others lapse into generalities; a couple even detour into fables. Typos and imprecise language are left unchanged. Plus printing paragraphs in various colors and using an assortment of type sizes and styles for emphasis often irritates rather than illuminates. MORE

March 23, 2015

Joëlle Léandre-Nicole Mitchell

Sisters Where
RogueArt ROG-0055

Joëlle Léandre-Vincent Courtois

Live at Kesselhaus Berlin

Jazzdor Series 01

Experienced in the art and science of erudite duo performances, French bassist Joëlle Léandre demonstrates both profundity and parody on these meetings with long-time associates. Recorded live about four months apart in Berlin or Paris, each CD has much to recommend it. However, perhaps it’s because the bassist is intent on matching the improvisational combustion sparked by the flute of American Nicole Mitchell, another musical polymath, that animated spirits seem more apparent on Sisters Where than Live at Kesselhaus Berlin. Not that that the latter CD, recorded with French cellist Vincent Courtois, is lacking in any way. It’s just that the exuberance expressed on Léandre’s home-town gig is more pronounced. MORE

March 23, 2015

Joëlle Léandre-Vincent Courtois

Live at Kesselhaus Berlin
Jazzdor Series 01

Joëlle Léandre-Nicole Mitchell

Sisters Where

RogueArt ROG-0055

Experienced in the art and science of erudite duo performances, French bassist Joëlle Léandre demonstrates both profundity and parody on these meetings with long-time associates. Recorded live about four months apart in Berlin or Paris, each CD has much to recommend it. However, perhaps it’s because the bassist is intent on matching the improvisational combustion sparked by the flute of American Nicole Mitchell, another musical polymath, that animated spirits seem more apparent on Sisters Where than Live at Kesselhaus Berlin. Not that that the latter CD, recorded with French cellist Vincent Courtois, is lacking in any way. It’s just that the exuberance expressed on Léandre’s home-town gig is more pronounced. MORE

February 1, 2015

Derek Bailey/Joëlle Léandre/George Lewis/Evan Parker

Dunois 1982
Fou Records FR-CD 06

Frank Lowe Quartet

Out Loud

Triple Point Records TPR 209

Don Pullen

Richard’s Tune

Delmark/Sackville CD2-3008

Steve Lacy

Cycles (1976-80)

Emanem 5205

Ted Daniel’s Energy Module

Energy Module

NoBusiness Records NBCD 72/73

Something In The Air: Revolutionary Records Redux

By Ken Waxman

About 40 years on, so-called Free Jazz and Free Music from the late sixties, seventies and early eighties, doesn’t sound so revolutionary any more. The idea of improvising without chord structures or fixed rhythm has gradually seeped into most players’ consciousness, with the genre(s) now accepted as particular methods for improvisation along with Bop, Dixieland and Fusion. Historical perspective also means that many sessions originally recorded during that period are now being released. Some are reissues, usually with additional music added; others are newly unearthed tapes being issued for the first time. The best discs offer up formerly experimental sounds whose outstanding musicianship is more of a lure than nostalgia. MORE

September 6, 2014

Thomas Buckner/Joëlle Léandre/Nicole Mitchell

Flowing Stream
Leo Records CD LR 701

By Ken Waxman

Unconventionality is a state of mind. If it’s possible to create an improvising duo with just flute and double bass, then why not add a baritone singer to the ensemble? Flowing Stream proves that exemplary sounds can result from such a set up. One of the many ensembles in which American flautist Nicole Mitchell and French bassist Joëlle Léandre participate, their existing duo is joined by baritone Thomas Buckner on a dozen tracks. Specialist in sound-singing, unexpected overtones and extended techniques, the vocalist divides his time between interpreting contemporary notated music and improvising with the likes of Roscoe Mitchell. MORE

July 1, 2014

Danuik Lazro/Joëlle Léandre

Haspaarren
NoBusiness Records NBCD 62

Joëlle Léandre & Pascal Contet

«3»

Ayler aylCD-137

Paradoxically and characteristically, French bassist Joëlle Léandre has always insisted that she loves improvising in novel combinations – and also prefers to work with players with whom she has along association. These exceptional duo sessions are instances of the latter, and despite superficial variances, both actually have more in common than is initially evident.

Léandre and French Free Jazz baritone saxophonist Danuik Lazro has been playing in different partnerships since 1984. Meanwhile French accordionist Pascal Contet, best known as an interpreter of modern notated music as well as dabbling in theatre and film soundtracks, has had an on-again/off-again duo with Léandre for two decades. Comprehensively these discs highlight the bass player’s interactions with two reed players, except one uses bellows and buttons and the other keys and a mouthpiece. MORE

July 1, 2014

Joëlle Léandre & Pascal Contet

«3»
Ayler aylCD-137

Danuik Lazro/Joëlle Léandre

Haspaarren

NoBusiness Records NBCD 62

Paradoxically and characteristically, French bassist Joëlle Léandre has always insisted that she loves improvising in novel combinations – and also prefers to work with players with whom she has along association. These exceptional duo sessions are instances of the latter, and despite superficial variances, both actually have more in common than is initially evident. MORE

June 25, 2014

Danielle Palardy Roger

Le Caillou
Ambiances Magnetiques AM 215 CD

Modern Art Orchestra Plays the Music of Kristóf Bascó

Circular

BMC CD 204

Paal Nilssen-Love Large Unit

First Blow

PNL Records PNL 021

Graham Collier

Luminosity-The Last Suites

Jazzcontinuum GCM 2014

Barry Guy New Orchestra

Amphi, Radio Rondo

Intakt CD 235

Something In The Air: Translating a Singular Vision to a Large Ensemble

By Ken Waxman
MORE

June 20, 2014

Festival Report

Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon
By Ken Waxman

Wood fabrication in many forms, from house renovation to cabinetry, is one of the industries in the area surrounding the small Austrian town of Ulrichberg. Appropriately enough this year’s 29th Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon May 1 to 3, featured a wood-based instrument in nearly every performance.

First among equals were French double bassist Joëlle Léandre, performing in a quartet with Swiss soprano and tenor saxophonist Urs Leimgruber, Austrian guitarist Burkhard Stangl and Rome-based, American composer Alvin Curran who played piano and electronics. An experienced improviser since his time with Musica Elettronica Viva in the ‘60s, Curran’s tapping on piano strings prepared with cymbals made a perfect percussive counterpoint to Leimgruber’s key slaps and Stangl’s vertical rubbing of a violin bow on guitar strings. Léandre’s typically disruptive response to this was semi-romantic bowing. Later on, when Curran’s wheezy harmonica and steady piano chording referenced “St. James Infirmary”, she reversed course to slap a bass line as Stangl strummed appropriately. When not showcasing high-velocity string sawing which complemented Leimgruber’s extended techniques, Léandre’s ascending, pseudo-operatic cries and throat gurgles kept the program constantly fascinating to the extent that the 45-minute performance seemed to flash by in an instant. MORE

May 14, 2014

Théo Ceccaldi Trio +1

Can You Smile?
Ayler Records AYLCD 136

Uri Caine Ensemble

Rhapsody in Blue

Winter & Winter 910.905-2

Samo Salamon & Slovene Philharmonic String Chamber Orchestra

Free Strings Orchestrology

KGOSF VD 013

Nils Wogram & Root 70 with strings

Riomar

Wog Records 007

Vijay Iyer

Mutations

ECM CD 2372

Something In The Air: Innovative Writing for Strings and Improvisers

By Ken Waxman

As genres draw closer to one another, the idea of a musician from one area playing and composing a work in another area doesn’t seem so far-fetched. More importantly the sophistication of many contemporary performers means that these inter-genre excursions are triumphant rather than merely passable. One form that is being explored by improvised musicians for instance is composing for the bedrock of the so-called classical music tradition: string groupings. MORE

November 8, 2013

Label Spotlight:

Relative Pitch Records
By Ken Waxman

We both feel that every release has been a success,” says Kevin Reilly, co-owner with Mike Panico, of the New York area-based Relative Pitch (RP) record label. “I want to stay away from categorizing our releases according to the parameters of late industrial capitalist consumerism.”

Economic methodology aside, in the less than five years since it was founded, Relative Pitch has already put out 14 well-regarded CDs, featuring younger advanced players such as guitarist Mary Halvorson and trumpeter Nate Wooley, plus veteran free musicians including bassist Joëlle Léandre and saxophonist Urs Leimgruber. MORE

November 3, 2013

Arrivals/Departures-New Horizons in Jazz

Stuart Broomer, Brain Morton & Bill Shoemaker
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

Book shelf: By Ken Waxman

Distinguished as much for its scholarship as the artful, mostly color photos and illustrations which make it an attractive souvenir, this 240-page volume is published by Lisbon’s annual Jazz em Agosto (JeA) Festival to mark its 30th anniversary of innovative programming. It says a lot about the individuals who program JeA that rather than commissioning a vainglorious run-down of the festival’s greatest hits, they turned to three respected jazz critics to profile 50 of the most important musicians, living or dead, who performed at the festival. MORE

August 13, 2013

Sudo Quartet

Live at Banlieue Bleue
No Business Records NBCD 51

Human

Being Human

Babel BDV 13116

Unusual instrumentation and an inferred concept of what constitutes Free Music create unique experiences from each of these CDs despite approximate instrumental correlation. Committed to bare-bones, uncompromising improvisation are the members of the Sudo Quartet, a multi-national crew made up of continental stylists who have played free sounds almost from the time of its birth. More closely affiliated with close-ended compositions are the four humans in Human, who also represent some of the most advanced youngish improvisers in the British Isles. Still, each session can be enjoyed on its own merits. MORE

May 13, 2013

Joëlle Léandre

Wols Circus: 12 compositions pour contrebasse d’après 12 gravures de Wols
Galerie Hus HUS 112

JC Jones

Citations: Solo Bass

Kadima Collective KCR 36

Alexandre St-Onge

Ailleurs

& Records 18

Ingebrigt Håker Flaten

Birds – Solo Electric

Tektite Records No #

Something In The Air: The Liberation of the Unaccompanied Bass Solo

By Ken Waxman

Of all the instruments that needed the advances of free music in the 20th century to show off its true character, it has been the double bass which benefitted the most from this situation. Relegated to decorative, scene setting or mere rhythmic functions in conventional classical and jazz performances, it was only when bassists were able to express themselves without restraint that their role grew. By the 21st century in fact, solo bass recitals became as commonplace as those by other instrumentalists. The reason, as these CDs demonstrate, is the arrival of performers who can extract a multiplicity of novel tones, timbres and textures from four tautly wound strings. MORE

January 11, 2013

Rhapsody’s 2012 Jazz Critics' Poll

Individual Ballot
From Ken Waxman

• Your name and primary affiliation(s) (no more than two, please)

Ken Waxman

Jazz Word (www.jazzword.com); The New York City Jazz Record

• Your choices for 2012's ten best new releases listed in descending order one-through-ten.

1. François Houle Genera Songlines SGL 1595-2

2. Fred Ho/Quincy Saul The Music of Cal Massey: A Tribute Mutable/Big Red Media 004

3. William Parker Centering: Unreleased Early Recordings 1976–1987 NoBusiness Records NBCD 42-47 MORE

December 20, 2012

Joëlle Léandre/Serge Teyssot-Gay

Trans
Intervalle IT 30121901

David Chiesa/Jean Sebastien Mariage

Oort

Creative Sources CS 185 CD

From the time of Jim Hall’s meeting with Red Mitchell in the 1970s and a contemporaneous duo involving Joe Pass and Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, guitar-double bass improvisation has been a favored, if challenging format. The situation becomes even more intricate however when the song form and familiar standards are jettisoned in favor of pure improvisation. Two French duos demonstrate how this can be accomplished on these CDs, yet such is the breath of Free Music that the meetings between bassist David Chiesa and guitarist Jean Sebastien Mariage on one hand and bassist Joëlle Léandre and guitarist Serge Teyssot-Gay on the other are the yin and yang of such associations. MORE

September 16, 2012

Stone Quartet

Live at the Vision Festival
Ayler Records aylCD 124

MMM Quartet

Live at the Metz Arsenal

Leo Records CD LR 631

Two high-quality CDs, recorded in a live setting with French bassist Joëlle Léandre as the unifying factor, are superficially similar in intent and personnel. Yet the multiple strategies each quartet brings to the extended selections demonstrate how unique sounds can result even in the most comfortable of surroundings.

Live at the Vision Festival captures the triumphant performance of what might be called Léandre’s New York quartet, filled out by trumpeter/flutist Roy Campbell, pianist Marilyn Crispell and violist Mat Maneri. Although recorded in France, Live at the Metz Arsenal, joins the bassist with two colleagues who teach at California’s Mills College – Alvin Curran on electronics and piano, best known for his notated work and membership in the MEV ensemble, and guitarist Fred Frith, whose entry into improv came through his Art-Rock bands like Henry Cow. Although MMM could stand for “MillsMusicMafia”, some Continental spice joins the West Coast greenery in the presence of Swiss soprano and tenor saxophonist Urs Leimgruber, who has been in other bands with Léandre, including Quartet Noir which also included Crispell. MORE

September 16, 2012

MMM Quartet

Live at the Metz Arsenal
Leo Records CD LR 631

Stone Quartet

Live at the Vision Festival

Ayler Records aylCD 124

Two high-quality CDs, recorded in a live setting with French bassist Joëlle Léandre as the unifying factor, are superficially similar in intent and personnel. Yet the multiple strategies each quartet brings to the extended selections demonstrate how unique sounds can result even in the most comfortable of surroundings.

Live at the Vision Festival captures the triumphant performance of what might be called Léandre’s New York quartet, filled out by trumpeter/flutist Roy Campbell, pianist Marilyn Crispell and violist Mat Maneri. Although recorded in France, Live at the Metz Arsenal, joins the bassist with two colleagues who teach at California’s Mills College – Alvin Curran on electronics and piano, best known for his notated work and membership in the MEV ensemble, and guitarist Fred Frith, whose entry into improv came through his Art-Rock bands like Henry Cow. Although MMM could stand for “MillsMusicMafia”, some Continental spice joins the West Coast greenery in the presence of Swiss soprano and tenor saxophonist Urs Leimgruber, who has been in other bands with Léandre, including Quartet Noir which also included Crispell. MORE

June 5, 2012

Label Spotlight

Potlatch Records
By Ken Waxman

Performing music’s loss is recorded music’s gain since Paris-based Jacques Oger abandoned his gig as a saxophonist with the free music trio Axolotl in the mid-1980s. Turning to market research, communication and translations, by 1997 he had saved enough to found Potlatch which to date has released 35 high-quality CDs. Oger spent 10 years with Axolotl, during which the band recorded two LPs and gigged frequently. He stopped playing, he admits “because I thought I was not creative enough to keep on in that area of music.” He was creative enough though when he translated his love for experimental music into a record label. MORE

March 26, 2012

György Szabados - Joëlle Léandre

Live at Magyarkanizsa
Budapest Music Center Records BMC CD 183

Bittersweet by definition, this exceptional CD highlights the creativity of two of Europe’s most profound instrumental innovators in a four-part improvisation, recorded at a Serbian music festival. The result is sweet since it was one of the few times that György Szabados, Hungary’s veteran father of distinct experimental music, got to play with a foreign musician with a similar breath of talents to his own – in this case French bassist Joëlle Léandre. Yet the bitterness of unfulfilled promise is palpable as well, since Szabado died in the Pest county town of Nagymaros less than a year later, and never go to extend the partnership. MORE

October 10, 2011

Festival Report:

Météo Music Festival August 23 to August 27 2011
By Ken Waxman

Météo means weather in French, and one notable aspect of this year’s Météo Music Festival which takes place in Mulhouse, France, was the weather. It’s a testament to the high quality of the creative music there that audiences throughout the five days were without exception quiet and attentive despite temperatures in non air-conditioned concert spaces that hovered around the high 90sF. More dramatically, one afternoon a sudden freak thunderstorm created an unexpected crescendo to a hushed, spatial performance, by the Greek-Welsh Cranc trio of cellist Nikos Veliotis, harpist Rhodri Davies and violinist Angharad Davies, when winds violently blew ajar the immense wooden front door of Friche DMC, a former thread factory, causing glass to shatter and fall nosily. MORE

June 10, 2011

Joëlle Léandre/Nicole Mitchell/Dylan van der Schyff

Before After
Roguart Rog-0032

Joëlle Léandre

Live at the “Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon”

Leo Records CD LR 594/595

Joëlle Léandre & India Cooke

Journey

No Business Records NBCD 18

Joëlle Léandre/Phillip Greenlief

That Overt Desire of Object

Relative Pitch Records RPR 1002

By Ken Waxman

Solo, duo, trio, combo, there seems little that French bassist Joëlle Léandre isn’t capable of in an improvising situation. This clutch of CDs demonstrates this. One outstanding anomaly however is Live at the “Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon”, where she directs a handpicked tentet through a composition she created specifically for the festival. All the discs are of uniform high quality. MORE

June 10, 2011

Joëlle Léandre

Live at the “Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon”
Leo Records CD LR 594/595

Joëlle Léandre & India Cooke

Journey

No Business Records NBCD 18

Joëlle Léandre/Phillip Greenlief

That Overt Desire of Object

Relative Pitch Records RPR 1002

Joëlle Léandre/Nicole Mitchell/Dylan van der Schyff

Before After

Roguart Rog-0032

By Ken Waxman

Solo, duo, trio, combo, there seems little that French bassist Joëlle Léandre isn’t capable of in an improvising situation. This clutch of CDs demonstrates this. One outstanding anomaly however is Live at the “Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon”, where she directs a handpicked tentet through a composition she created specifically for the festival. All the discs are of uniform high quality. MORE

June 10, 2011

Joëlle Léandre & India Cooke

Journey
No Business Records NBCD 18

Joëlle Léandre/Nicole Mitchell/Dylan van der Schyff

Before After

Roguart Rog-0032

Joëlle Léandre

Live at the “Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon”

Leo Records CD LR 594/595

Joëlle Léandre/Phillip Greenlief

That Overt Desire of Object

Relative Pitch Records RPR 1002

By Ken Waxman

Solo, duo, trio, combo, there seems little that French bassist Joëlle Léandre isn’t capable of in an improvising situation. This clutch of CDs demonstrates this. One outstanding anomaly however is Live at the “Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon”, where she directs a handpicked tentet through a composition she created specifically for the festival. All the discs are of uniform high quality. MORE

June 10, 2011

Joëlle Léandre/Phillip Greenlief

That Overt Desire of Object
Relative Pitch Records RPR 1002

Joëlle Léandre/Nicole Mitchell/Dylan van der Schyff

Before After

Roguart Rog-0032

Joëlle Léandre

Live at the “Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon”

Leo Records CD LR 594/595

Joëlle Léandre & India Cooke

Journey

No Business Records NBCD 18

By Ken Waxman

Solo, duo, trio, combo, there seems little that French bassist Joëlle Léandre isn’t capable of in an improvising situation. This clutch of CDs demonstrates this. One outstanding anomaly however is Live at the “Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon”, where she directs a handpicked tentet through a composition she created specifically for the festival. All the discs are of uniform high quality. MORE

April 3, 2011

Red Toucan

Label Spotlight
By Ken Waxman

Like its aviary namesake, Montreal-based Red Toucan is rare bird in the recording industry. Dedicated to releasing what label owner Michel Passaretti calls “music with strong improvisational content”; the Canadian imprint operates in a unique fashion. Although founded in 1994 as an outlet for local productions, most of Red Toucan’s 36 releases so far have featured European improvisers.

Today the label accepts for release only already recorded projects no matter where they originate. What’s distinctive about this arrangement is that no matter the size of the ensemble or the fame of the performers – and Red Toucan’s roster includes discs by reedists John Butcher, Frank Gratkowski and François Houle, bassist Joëlle Léandre and bassist/composer Simon H. Fell among others – the label’s CDs are usually the first ones recorded by a particular group. MORE

March 19, 2011

Joëlle Léandre & India Cooke

Journey
No Business Records NBCD 18

United in the campaign to sustain a continuous Free Music role for two traditional stringed instruments, French bassist Joëlle Léandre and American violinist India Cooke demonstrate their commitment on this 2008 Denver-recorded gig. Only their third live show as a duo, the technical and analytical qualities that made their CD from the 2004 Guelph Jazz Festival such a standout are still very much in evidence

Paris-based Léandre is, of course, one of the doyens of European improvised music, having worked with major stylists ranging from saxophonist Steve Lacy and guitarist Derek Bailey to trombonist George Lewis. Cooke on the other hand, is an academic affiliated with California’s Mill College, although the few times she has recorded, it has been in the company of heavy hitters such as bassist Lisle Ellis or saxophonist Larry Ochs. Creating together on four instant compositions plus two solo improvisations, the two express distinctive individuality and demonstrate how unique sonic sensibilities can be coupled. Overall one apparent serendipitous strategy is how both women appear to create as many textures from the wood of their respective instruments as they do from the strings. MORE

March 14, 2011

Tell No Lies Claim No Easy Victories

Edited by Phillipp Schmickl
Impro 2000

ECM 40th Anniversary Catalogue

Edited by Kenny Inaoka

Tokyo Kirarasha

As globalization intensifies, American-birthed popular music forms – most especially Jazz and Improvised Music – have evolved far beyond their initial audiences, confirming one of the hoariest of clichés, that music is a universal language. Creative music of many stripes has for many years been often treated more seriously in Europe and Asia than in North America. Consequently to be truly informed about the breadth of musical sounds it helps to understand other languages besides English. That’s the challenge related to the valuable books here. Neither is published primarily in English, but both can serve as resources for followers of Jazz and Improvised Music, no matter their native tongues. MORE

April 29, 2010

Joëlle Léandre & Jean Luc Cappozo

Live aux Instant Chavires
Kadima Collective KCR 22

Léandre/Vidal/Boni

Trace

Red Toucan # RT 9337

Without resorting to qualifiers of geography, genre or technique, French double bassist Joëlle Léandre is one of the most accomplished performers on her instrument. And she has been proving that for the past three decades or so.

Interesting as most of her work, these sessions present her string dexterity and timbral invention in new settings – and ones that are about as far removed from the standard jazz bass CD or classical double bass showcase as abstract art is from the Impressionists. An old hand at duets involving musicians ranging from A (Anthony Braxton) to Z (Carlos Zingaro), Live aux Instant Chavires captures an all-improv session between the Parisian bassist and Luzille, France-based trumpeter Jean Luc Cappozo. The brass man, who has concertized with Léandre in the past, also plays with Gallic jazzers such as pianist Sophia Domancich and clarinetist Louis Sclavis. MORE

April 29, 2010

Léandre/Vidal/Boni

Trace
Red Toucan # RT 9337

Joëlle Léandre & Jean Luc Cappozo

Live aux Instant Chavires

Kadima Collective KCR 22

Without resorting to qualifiers of geography, genre or technique, French double bassist Joëlle Léandre is one of the most accomplished performers on her instrument. And she has been proving that for the past three decades or so.

Interesting as most of her work, these sessions present her string dexterity and timbral invention in new settings – and ones that are about as far removed from the standard jazz bass CD or classical double bass showcase as abstract art is from the Impressionists. An old hand at duets involving musicians ranging from A (Anthony Braxton) to Z (Carlos Zingaro), Live aux Instant Chavires captures an all-improv session between the Parisian bassist and Luzille, France-based trumpeter Jean Luc Cappozo. The brass man, who has concertized with Léandre in the past, also plays with Gallic jazzers such as pianist Sophia Domancich and clarinetist Louis Sclavis. MORE

March 8, 2010

Guelph Jazz Festival

Guelph, Ontario
September 9 - 13, 2009

Always populist, the annual Guelph Jazz Festival extended its support of outdoor improvisation plus interaction between Third and First World musicians in its 16th edition, without lessening its commitment to Free Music. Much of the outstanding music-making came from the later however, with American pianist Marilyn Crispell one standout.

Featured in American, European and Canadian group settings, Crispell’s playing was powerful and outer-directed at the River Run Centre concert hall, in a trio with two AACM stalwarts, seemingly ageless tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson and colorful percussionist Hamid Drake, whose rhythmic conception is comfortable in any context. Anderson often quivered or vibrated reflective lines that were paralleled with linear arpeggios or kinetic pedal-pushed frequencies by Crispell. Meantime Drake’s palm or stick movement conveyed all the rhythm. Climax was a version of Muñoz’s “Fatherhood”, built on ecclesiastical chording from the pianist, ruffs and rebounds from Drake and gospel-like preaching from Anderson. MORE

February 26, 2010

Joëlle Léandre, François Houle, Raymond Strid

Last Seen Headed, Live at Sons d’Hiver
Booklet notes for Ayler Records AYLCD-096

French bassist Joëlle Léandre is one of the most welcoming of improvisers, always ready to try something musically novel with new partners, anywhere and at any moment. At the same time she continues to play with some musicians with whom she has worked for years – in some cases decades. Why? “Because as we evolve each of us changes as individuals – our molecules, our DNA and our music as musicians,” she replies. “So even after long years of collaboration each time is a new adventure.” MORE

November 12, 2009

Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon

Ulrichsberg, Austria
April 30 –May 2, 2009

A site-specific performance that took into account the dimensions and machinery of a still-functioning 1853 linen factory; resounding interface between pulsating electronic and acoustic instruments; and a full-force finale involving a mid-sized band were among the notable performances at 2009’s Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon.

Remarkable as well as the consistently high quality of the 11 concerts that took place during the 23rd edition of this three-day festival, is the location: a farming and small manufacturing village of fewer than 7,000 people about 60 kilometres west of Linz, Austria. MORE

November 12, 2009

In A Low Voice

Joëlle Léandre
Improvisation is my life

By Ken Waxman

For MusicWorks Issue #105

For Joëlle Léandre it all begins and ends with the double bass.

After spending most of her life – from age nine – playing and studying the intricacies of the often-unwieldy bull fiddle, the sounds she creates with it are so personal, that defining them as Free Music, New Music or anything else is almost beside the point. Since the late 1970s, Paris-based Léandre has played throughout Europe, North America and Japan, performed notated scores specifically tailored to her skills, composed music for dance and theatre companies and above all, worked with a clutch of improvisers As Léandre states: “Improvisation is my life. It’s music without hierarchy or rank; it only involves an individual and his commitment.” MORE

September 4, 2009

Joëlle Léandre-George Lewis

Transatlantic Visions
RogueArt ROG-0020

Joëlle Léandre

Live in Israel

Kadima KCR 17

Joëlle Léandre & Quentin SirJacq

Out of Nowhere

Ambiance MagnétiqueAM184

Joëlle Léandre & William Parker

Live at Dunois

Leo CD LR 535

Extended Play: Joëlle Léandre

By Ken Waxman

A masterful and distinctive soloist, French bassist Joëlle Léandre is versatile in any musical situation. These impressive CDs showcase her improvisational skills, while elsewhere the conservatory-trained Parisian is as comfortable with notated music, often performing studies written for her by composers such as John Cage and Giancinto Scelsi. MORE

September 4, 2009

Joëlle Léandre & Quentin SirJacq

Out of Nowhere
Ambiance Magnétique AM 184

Joëlle Léandre & William Parker

Live at Dunois

Leo CD LR 535

Joëlle Léandre-George Lewis

Transatlantic Visions

RogueArt ROG-0020

Joëlle Léandre

Live in Israel

Kadima KCR 17

Joëlle Léandre & Quentin SirJacq

Out of Nowhere

Ambiance MagnétiqueAM184

Extended Play: Joëlle Léandre

By Ken Waxman

A masterful and distinctive soloist, French bassist Joëlle Léandre is versatile in any musical situation. These impressive CDs showcase her improvisational skills, while elsewhere the conservatory-trained Parisian is as comfortable with notated music, often performing studies written for her by composers such as John Cage and Giancinto Scelsi. MORE

September 4, 2009

Joëlle Léandre & William Parker

Live at Dunois
Leo CD LR 535

Joëlle Léandre-George Lewis

Transatlantic Visions

RogueArt ROG-0020

Joëlle Léandre

Live in Israel

Kadima KCR 17

Joëlle Léandre & Quentin SirJacq

Out of Nowhere

Ambiance MagnétiqueAM184

Extended Play: Joëlle Léandre

By Ken Waxman

A masterful and distinctive soloist, French bassist Joëlle Léandre is versatile in any musical situation. These impressive CDs showcase her improvisational skills, while elsewhere the conservatory-trained Parisian is as comfortable with notated music, often performing studies written for her by composers such as John Cage and Giancinto Scelsi. MORE

September 4, 2009

Joëlle Léandre

Live in Israel
Kadima KCR 17

Joëlle Léandre & William Parker

Live at Dunois

Leo CD LR 535

Joëlle Léandre-George Lewis

Transatlantic Visions

RogueArt ROG-0020

Joëlle Léandre & Quentin SirJacq

Out of Nowhere

Ambiance MagnétiqueAM184

Extended Play: Joëlle Léandre

By Ken Waxman

A masterful and distinctive soloist, French bassist Joëlle Léandre is versatile in any musical situation. These impressive CDs showcase her improvisational skills, while elsewhere the conservatory-trained Parisian is as comfortable with notated music, often performing studies written for her by composers such as John Cage and Giancinto Scelsi. MORE

March 23, 2009

Sonic Geography: Munich

For MusicWorks Issue #103
BY KEN WAXMAN

Mammoth beer-drinking establishments and meticulously maintained older structures of all sorts are the images that resonate most strongly about Munich, Germany’s third-largest city. All year Munich’s outdoor beer gardens – one of which holds 8,000 [!] people – are packed with folks enjoying the traditional one-litre (die mass) glass of beer and chowing down on regional specialties such as Weißwürste (white sausages), Leberkäs (baked sausage loaf), and sweetish chewy pretzels, while listening to brass bands. Annually the 16-day Oktoberfest adds about 17 million visitors to the Bavarian capital’s nearly 1.5 inhabitants. MORE

November 20, 2008

The Stone Quartet

DMG @ The Stone - Vol 1.
DMG/ARC-0721

Staggeringly producing enough tonal colors and timbral delineations to suggest a much larger group, the Stone Quartet has created an improvisational opus with this CD – a faithful reproduction of a single set the ensemble played in the New York performance space.

This comprehensive exhibit of remarkable polyphony should come as no surprise, since the band consists of four innovators of in-the-moment music-making: Americans trumpeter Roy Campbell violist Mat Maneri and pianist Marilyn Crispell, plus French bassist Joëlle Léandre. Shorter, intuitive Maneri-Léandre and Campbell-Crispell duets are sandwich between substantial, extended quartet interactions that define the group’s strengths. MORE

August 11, 2008

Houle/Léandre/Strid

9 Moments
Red Toucan RT 9333

Crisscrossing then negating boundaries both sonic and geographical, three practitioners of absolute improvisation produce nine high quality instant compositions in the time it took to record them.

Old hands at this, Swedish percussionist Raymond Strid and French bassist Joëlle Léandre lock seamlessly into formation with Vancouver clarinetist François Houle during these British Columbia-recorded sessions. Multiphonic reverberations encompass multi-textures wrung from rattled chains, struck gong and whacked drum tops; glottal air and tongue passages are popped, chirped and slurred; and handfuls of strings are rhythmically thumped or delicately bowed sul ponticello. Léandre’s extends her improvisations vocally as well, when with onomatopoeic mimicry she uses Satchmo-like throaty growls to intersect with Houle’s serpentine trilling. MORE

May 8, 2008

Two Bass Hits

Trio Léandre/Derome/Roger and Quartestski Does Prokofiev perform Montreal concerts

Trio Léandre/Derome/Roger

La Salle Rosa

Montreal March 25, 2008

Quartestski Does Prokofiev

Casa del Popolo

Montreal March 26, 2008

Bass set the pace in Montreal on two weeknights in late March. This was the result of Paris-based Joëlle Léandre performing as part of an ad-hoc trio in concert at converted social hall La Salle Rosa the night before local bassist, Pierre-Yves Martel, played across Boulevard St. Laurent at the more relaxed Casa del Popolo club, exhibiting the sort of genre-bursting freedom won for younger string players like himself by pioneers like Léandre, as his Quartestski Does Prokofiev extended its interpretations of the material on its eponymously named CD. The connection was even stronger, since the peripatetic Parisian, stopping off between gigs in New York and Paris actually played on Martel’s bass. MORE

December 4, 2007

Joëlle Léandre & Kevin Norton

Winter in New York - 2006
Leo Records CD LR 499

Proving once again that the limitations of musical improvisation are only what can’t be imagined, French bassist Joëlle Léandre and American percussionist Kevin Norton combine for a live set that utilize every timbre of their respective instruments.

Norton finds unique and unexpected textures, rhythms and tones to whack, stroke, pulse and pop as he moves among standard drum kit, vibraphone, bells and other miscellaneous percussion during these eight variations on a theme. His occasional trans-oceanic collaborator, Léandre has revelled in similar meetings since the early 1980s. Strumming, bowing and thumping the heavy instrument’s strings and wood, plus scatting conspiratorially at times, the bassist’s command of double bass vocabulary in such that every percussion challenge is handed with aplomb. MORE

November 18, 2007

Joëlle Léandre/Masahiko Satoh

Voyages
BJSP 0001

Joëlle Léandre/Pascal Contet

Freeway

Clean Feed CF080CD

Dissimilar keyboards and keyboardists provide the counterweight to French improviser Joëlle Léandre’s double bass on these duo CDs. Yet the most fascinating part of the performances is how Paris-based Léandre manages to subtly steer the playing of these veterans away from their regular comfort zone into a realm of Free Music, which is her raison d’être.

Voyages, for instance, is the second CD featuring the bassist plus Japanese pianist, composer and arranger Masahiko Satoh, who she first recorded with five years previously. Satoh, who has worked with musicians as different as fusion drummer Steve Gadd and experimental saxophonist Ned Rothenberg, is an accomplished professional who most commonly plays mainstream jazz, writes soundtracks and provides backing for pop/jazz singers. MORE

November 18, 2007

Joëlle Léandre/Pascal Contet

Freeway
Clean Feed CF080CD

Joëlle Léandre/Masahiko Satoh

Voyages

BJSP 0001

Dissimilar keyboards and keyboardists provide the counterweight to French improviser Joëlle Léandre’s double bass on these duo CDs. Yet the most fascinating part of the performances is how Paris-based Léandre manages to subtly steer the playing of these veterans away from their regular comfort zone into a realm of Free Music, which is her raison d’être.

Voyages, for instance, is the second CD featuring the bassist plus Japanese pianist, composer and arranger Masahiko Satoh, who she first recorded with five years previously. Satoh, who has worked with musicians as different as fusion drummer Steve Gadd and experimental saxophonist Ned Rothenberg, is an accomplished professional who most commonly plays mainstream jazz, writes soundtracks and provides backing for pop/jazz singers. MORE

September 13, 2006

Joëlle Léandre

At The Le Mans Jazz Festival
Leo CD LR 458/459

Versatile French bassist Joëlle Léandre can always be counted upon to be dependable in her contributions to any improvisation as well as flexible in her choice of musical partners.

Starting in the early 1980s, she has performed in Europe, Asia and North America, with improv masters, innovative Free players from different cultures and younger musicians who need more exposure. Recorded during one five-day period, this two-CD set showcases her playing in five different contexts with new and old collaborators and with predictably impressive results. MORE

August 14, 2006

JOSEPHSON/LÉANDRE/SMITH/BLUME

Cruxes
Balance Point Acoustics bpa 010

By Ken Waxman

Despite appearances and personnel this isn’t an Old World-New World double bass face-off between a practiced French master and an American tyro, seconded by a representative of each continent.

Rather CRUXES is a document of Bochum, Germany-based percussionist Martin Blume’s visit to the Bay Area, where he improvised live and in-studio with one veteran of the European scene – French bassist Joëlle Léandre – plus bassist Damon Smith and Aurora Josephson’s voice. MORE

May 29, 2006

QUARTET NOIR

Lugano
Victo cd 096

SCHLIPPENBACH/DUNMALL/ROGERS/BIANCO Vesuvius
SLAMCD 262

Serendipitously recorded eight days apart, these mixed Euro-American quartet CDs with similar instrumentation couldn’t be more different – and that statement encompasses a lot more than personnel or geography.

Matching one of the founders of German Free Jazz with three younger, London-based improvisers is VESUVIUS, an all-out recording session firmly in the Energy Music genre. LUGANO, which is described as “a suite in three movements”, is as much minimalism as Free Improv, with the three Europeans and one American consolidating a series of understated timbres and waveforms into a collection of tones. Amazingly – or perhaps not – both CDs reach the goal of positive music making, though admittedly LUGANO’s are more micro. MORE

November 21, 2005

Joëlle Léandre & Akosh S.

Györ
Reqords

Joëlle Léandre
Concerto Grosso
Jazz’halo

Ramon Lopez Flowers Trio
Flowers of Peace
Leo

By Ken Waxman
November 21, 2005

One, two, three … Parisian Joëlle Léandre is the prime example of a schooled musician who utilizes her expertise in another genre to move into the first ranks of improvisation. Always insistent that she loves ands appreciates jazz, but can’t and doesn’t play it, the French double bassist came to improv in the late 1970s, after establishing herself as on of the paramount interpreters of contemporary classical compositions by the likes of John Cage and Giacinto Scelsi. MORE

November 7, 2005

JOËLLE LÉANDRE/INDIA COOKE

Firedance
Red Toucan # RT 9327

STEVE LACY/JOËLLE LÉANDRE
One More Time
Leo Records CD LR 422

Partnerships new and old, each of these fine CDs feature French bassist Joëlle Léandre bonding musically with an American. Both prove that the versatile Paris-based low-pitched string player can adapt and amplify unique timbres produced by other players who have little in common besides birthplace.

Fittingly each was recorded outside the United States. On ONE MORE TIME, her main man is the late soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, with the CD recorded in Brussels during one of the longtime expatriate’s farewell to Europe concerts before he relocated to Boston. FIREDANCE finds the bull fiddler at the Guelph (Ontario) Jazz Festival matching licks with Bay-area violinist India Cooke. Léandre’s longtime experience with outside string slingers like Lisbon’s Carlos Zingaro makes her the perfect foil for Cooke, who has played with advanced bassists like Canadian Lisle Ellis. Both also worked with trombonist George Lewis. MORE

January 3, 2005

Gaguik Mouradian/Claude Tchamitchian

Le monde est une fenêtre
émouvance

Joëlle Léandre/Gianni Lenoici
Sur une balançoire
Ambiances Magnetic

By Ken Waxman
January 3, 2005

Giving themselves new challenges, two of France’s most accomplished double bass players are involved in duos that stretch the definition of improvisation.

Expanding her sound philosophy that encompasses so-called modern classical music as well as improv, Joëlle Léandre has recorded 14 miniatures with Gianni Lenoici, a pianist from Monopoli, Italy, who has a similar background to hers. Speaking of background, Claude Tchamitchian, usually found in the company of hard-core improvisers such as pianist Sophia Domancich, guitarist Raymond Boni and reedist Daunik Lazro, here taps into his Armenian roots, improvising with kamancha master Gaguik Mouradian. MORE

October 11, 2004

LÉANDRE/MANERI/MARGUET/RYAN

For Flowers
Leo CD LR 394

Finding French bassist Joëlle Léandre involved in an ad-hoc improvising situation with unexpected musical partners is so common as to be customary. She’s someone equally at home dissecting notated pieces by John Cage with Japanese musician as playing Free Music with a mixture of Europeans and Americans. What is remarkable is her partners on this eight-track CD recorded at a jazz festival.

While French drummer Christophe Marguet is a new acquaintance, she regularly plays with other percussionists. However, except for a couple of instances, electro-acoustic sounds haven’t been a part of her discography. Which makes so noticeable the presence of Joel Ryan on computer-based electronics, who is usually part of reedist Evan Parker’s Electro-Acoustic Ensemble. Even more conspicuous is American violinist Mat Maneri. Born into improv -- his father is microtonal reedist Joe -- Maneri usually sticks to the ecstatic side of jazz, gigging with the likes of pianist Mathew Shipp and bassist William Parker, while the bassist’s usual fiddle sidekick is Lisbon's Carlos Zingaro. MORE

April 19, 2004

JOËLLE LÉANDRE/MARK NAUSEEF

Evident
482 Music 482-1024

Building a CD around what elsewhere would be called a rhythm section is a concept that could only come with the propagation of Free Music. That’s because its practitioners -- in this case French bassist Joëlle Léandre and American percussionist Mark Nauseef -- don’t follow the hierarchical designations of so-called classical, jazz or popular musics. With no front line, each instrumentalist is potentially both a soloist and an accompanist and that’s why it’s evident that EVIDENT succeeds on its own terms. MORE

January 12, 2004

BRETT LARDER/JOËLLE LÉNDRE/KAZUHISA UCHICASHI

No Day Rising
Spool Line SPL-121

KEVIN NORTON/JOËLLE LÉNDRE/TOMÁS ULRICH
Ocean of Earth
Barking Hoop BY-BKH007

Recording studios may have been frequented as often as classrooms during the time French bassist Joëlle Léandre spent as a visiting professor at Oakland, Calif.’s Mills College between September and December 2002. These CDs are just two of the many sessions the peripatetic bassist was involved with during that time.

Not that this reflects opportunism or any lowering of Léandre’s high musical standards however. As a European improviser she welcomed the chance to play with as many non-Europeans as possible. Plus, as a true improviser committed to creativity of the moment, it wasn’t as if studio work took up oodles of time, even if, as in the case of OCEAN OF EARTH, she was away from her California base. MORE

November 24, 2003

FRED FRITH/JOËLLE LÉANDRE/JONATHAN SEGEL

Tempted to Smile
Spool SZ-SPL120-CD

FRED FRITH
Rivers and Tides
Winter & Winter 910 092-2

Of all the musicians with a non-jazz background who have embraced improv over the past few years, British-born, California-based guitarist/composer Fred Frith seems to have brought the most to the table by using freer impulses to amplify his own versatility.

During his 20-odd years in the United States he’s forged alliances with musicians as different as East Coast saxophonist John Zorn and West Cost kotoist Miya Masaoka. A founding member of Henry Cow, Britain’s original Art Rock, band, he keeps his rock chops up playing with the likes of Canadian guitarist René Lussier, while his ongoing European connections have included compositions for film, theatre and dance. MORE

February 3, 2003

JOSEPH SCIANNI

One eyed Jack
Cadence Jazz Records CJR 1148

JOËLLE LÉANDRE
Signature
Red Toucan RT 9321

Antithetical object lessons in how to approach a piano-bass duo, these notable discs are each impressive in their own ways. Yet the difference in approach has less to do with the fact that the protagonist of ONE EYED JACK is a male American pianist and of SIGNATURE a female French bassist, than its relationship to a host of dissimilar musical factors.

On the surface there are initially many similarities between the two CDs. Pianist Joseph Scianni and bassist Joëlle Léandre are both prodigiously classically trained, he with a doctorate in composition from Rochester’s Eastman School of music, she with advanced degrees from the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris and the Center for Creative and Performing Arts in Buffalo. Both are involved with notated music, Scianni having written MUSIC FOR QUIET LISTENING and produced Glenn Gould’s recordings of Arnold Schoenberg’s piano concerto, and Léandre universally recognized as a paramount interpreter of the works of John Cage, Giacinto Scelsi, Aldo Clemeni and other New music composers. Both are also deeply allied to uncompromising improvised sounds. This commitment has been with the pianist since he worked with cornettist Don Cherry and, most notably, bassist David Izenzon in the early 1960s, and was intensified in the 1990s -- after years spent as a university music professor -- with players like bassist Dominic Duval and drummer Jay Rosen. Currently a visiting professor at California’s Mills College, the bassist has collaborated with the cream of contemporary improvisers including guitarist Derek Bailey, saxophonist Steve Lacy and pianist Irène Schweizer among many others. MORE

September 30, 2002

JEROEN VAN VLIET

Red Sun
EWM 51172

COURVOISIER/LÉANDRE/IBARRA
Passagio
Intakt 075

Back in the pre-feminist 1950s, jazz critic Leonard Feather put together a “cats verses chicks” jam session. On it, an all-female band including vibist Terry Pollard and guitarist Mary Osborne went head to head with an equal number of male musicians including vibist Terry Gibbs and guitarist Tal Farlow, trading solos on such appropriate tunes as “Anything You Can Do … I Can Do Better”. The sentiment seemed to be that this would prove that women could play jazz just as well as men. MORE

June 29, 2002

LAZRO/ZINGARO/LÉANDRE/LOVENS

Madly You
Potlatch P102

Without exaggeration, this more than one-hour slab of free improvisation recorded live last year, features an object lesson in how to best express this subtle art. It’s particularly noteworthy because it shows that, unlike the hushed minimalism that characterizes the work of many younger improvisers, these seasoned pros aren’t afraid to express their craft at the volume it deserves.

However, even with the alto and baritone saxophone of France’s Daunik Lazro plus the percussion and musical saw (!) of Germany’s Paul Lovens the sounds don’t degenerate into blaring discord either. After all, Lovens, the master of selected and unselected percussion, has had a long relationship with folks like British saxophonist Evan Parker and German pianist Alexander von Schilppenbach who know their notes and timbres. While Lazro, who is probably -- undeservedly -- the least known of the four musicians here, has in the past matched wits with such sonic shamans as American multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee, Parker and American trombonist George Lewis. He also played with the final two improvisers here -- French bassist Joëlle Léandre and Portuguese violinist Carlos Zingaro as long ago as 1985. MORE

November 5, 2001

KUMI WAKAO

John Cage: Sonatas and Interludes (1946-1948)
Mesostics MESCD-0011

JOËLLE LÉANDRE/ KUMI WAKAO
John Cage #4
Mesostics MESCD-0013

As music in the 21st century advances, it's becoming excessively clear that the conception of modern improv relies as much for new ideas on the ongoing, so-called classical music tradition as the initial African American continuum. Plus, increasingly, even fresher non-Western sounds are being appended.

That's what makes these two discs so fascinating. They're made up of performances of the music of American visionary composer John Cage (1912-1992), who made a point of abdicating the composer's omniscience. Instead, he insisted on the use of chance and the performer's interpretation of his unique scores for creation, something that linked him, despite his protestations, to improvisation. MORE

October 29, 2001

JOËLLE LÉANDRE & RYOJI HOJITO

Sapporo Duets
Jazz'halo TS 013

Specializing in solo work, pianist Ryoji Hojito, 42, is one member of Japan's burgeoning improvisational music scene who is relatively unknown in the West. Committed to an expanded range of expression, he intertwines almost traditionally jazzy keyboard phrasing with irritating piano innards by introducing so-called prepared "little" instruments such as bells, rubber balls and squeeze toys to the strings.

Accomplished in diminutive, targeted gestures, he shines in these 10 succinct improvisations, recorded live in his hometown of Sapporo, located on the northernmost of Japans four main islands. Praise for a successful duo, of course, has to be shared with his associate, French bassist Joëlle Léandre, who is unquestionably comfortable in this format. Justly celebrated for her interpretation of New music as well as improv, over the years she has partnered such pianists as Italian Giorgio Occhipinti and Swiss Irène Schweizer, plus British guitarist Derek Bailey, Italian trombonist Sebi Tramontana and German accordionist Rüdiger Carl. MORE