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Album Review

Truly, "double basses" are what we have here. Both Léandre and Parker are widely known in their own circles as two of the preeminent bassists of the new music. This series of four duets and two solos (one each) proves just how utterly fascinating an all-bass recording can be. Both Léandre and Parker are so "musical" in their mutual — though widely different — approaches to rhythm and harmony that this intersection couldn't help but be lyrical in at least some way. Parker, coming from the American free jazz school, is a more overtly rhythmic player. His lock on harmonics comes from the physical size of the bass and his approach to opening it up percussively via the plucked, slapped, and pounded strings, which results in different tonalities that are incorporated into a modal framework of time and space. Léandre, who was reared in the European classical school and broke out to become an improviser of great diversity and depth, uses harmony in a serial manner, attempting to never repeat herself until she runs through all tonal possibilities; even in ensemble playing where timekeeping is paramount, she can swing with the best of them. Combined, these duets of bowed, plucked, strummed, and slapped basses conjure a swirling universe of spatial rhythms and stretched time. In other words, the time-space continuum (especially when you add Léandre's and Parker's voices to the mix) becomes warped from the inside out. The sound of this recording is pure musical imagination being "made flesh" in front of an audience that must have been pleasantly surprised when encountering the result.


Born: 12 September 1951 in Aix-en-Provence, France

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Contrebassist and improviser Joëlle Léandre counts John Cage among her close mentors and has remained under-acknowledged for the amount — and quality — of her work since she began recording in 1981. Léandre has performed and recorded with many of the best, and most interesting, musicians in improvised music, including German bassist Peter Kowald, American reedsman and composer Anthony Braxton, Swiss pianist Irène Schweizer, Australian violinist Jon Rose, vocalist Lauren Newton, and British...
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Contrabasses, Joelle Leandre
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