Joëlle Léandre/Craig Taborn/Mat Maneri

August 15, 2023

RogueArt ROG-0127

Doyenne of double bass improvised music, Paris’ Joëlle Léandre is part in many collaborative groups, but this one with Americans violinist Mat Maneri and pianist Craig Taborn is rather uncommon. That’s because Taborn’s advanced music flows directly out of the (free) jazz tradition, whereas Léandre’s characteristic arco projections, while thoroughly improvised, are anything but jazz-related. Luckily Maneri, who has worked with Taborn since at least the turn of the century and been part of various Léandre groups with the likes of Marilyn Crispell during that same period, is around to help bridge the divide.

Taborn’s most jazz-like excursion takes place on “O” – the track names taken together spell out the CD’s title – where his collective chording builds up to arpeggiated sweeps and staccato clips. Maneri’s soaring string scratches and Léandre’s bass string drones contribute tension and finally release to this linear track. Elsewhere Taborn adds measured precision, or as on “E”, a sprinkle of keyboard notes add subtle swing as it searches for the rhythmic center. This is in counterpoint to the bassist’s sul ponticello slashes and scraps until the violist’s Maneri’s angled slides draw closer textures from both. Still Léandre’s technical command is such that she can create woody sul tasto resonations that link with Maneri’s restrained glissandi at the same time as her higher pitched string rasp project more rugged lines to express stacked polyphony.

The most detailed example of this strategy is on “s”, the extended improvisation that completes this live performance. As viola slices vibrate from romantic to Roma, with equivalent freedom, Taborn’s intermittent key clipping joins Léandre’s undulating staccato strokes for low-pitched rhythmic ballast. The climax occurs as repetitive smears from all move up the scale to reach broken chord affiliation. Commonplace for a Léandre session for the protract innovative playing expressed, hEARoes is distinct in how it links opposing musical concepts into a satisfactory whole.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. h 2.E 3. A 4. R 5. O 6. E 7. s

Personnel: Mat Maneri (viola); Craig Taborn (piano) and Joëlle Léandre (bass)