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.

Climax of the CD is undoubtedly the more-than-13-minute “Moment Tendu”, where the trio’s cumulative staccato intensity produces more than three expected counterpoint lines. Operating at jet propulsive velocity, each affiliated tone vibrates louder than the former. Strid’s singular rumbles, ruffs and rebounds made common cause with Houle’s split tone decorations; then the clarinetist’s lyrical chalumeau warbles are accompanied by Léandre almost literally excavating the strings lowest pitches.

Still no matter how many extended techniques involving reed hisses, hand thumps or catgut spiccatto are heard, jazz’s rhythmic animation remains. When Léandre slaps her bass strings, Houle expels a lyrical obbligato and Strid thumps his snare and tom toms, aural images of Pops Foster, Barney Bigard and Baby Dodds are evoked along with those of more contemporary sound explorers.

— Ken Waxman