Thursday, March 10, 2016

Joelle Leandre, No Comment, 1994-95

Joelle Leandre is a bassist without peer in avant-free jazz-new music realms. I mean that others may approach her virtuostic sense of extension and mastery on the acoustic bass-contrabass but nobody is quite like her. My "Exhibit A" is the recently issued live solo performances she did at jazz festivals in Ragusa, Italy and Vancouver, Canada in 1994-95. It is available in full sound and impact on the CD No Comment (Fou Records CD 14).

It is her bass and vocals carrying forth with brilliance and discernment in nine segments. If you need to be reminded, her vocalizations intertwine with bass effervescences in beautifully virtuoso ways, like nobody else. And some of those moments here rank with her very best. But of course that is also true of the bass improvising itself, whether with bow or pizzicato, or both at once.

And in the course of this nicely packaged album you get some of Joelle's finest declamations, a real stunner of a set. She is master at utilizing a broad swath of extended and conventional ways of getting the bass to sing and then adds her voice now and again for something that assuredly does NOT sound like Slam Stewart (hello, do readers have any idea who I mean?) but sounds unmistakably like herself.

Anyone who loves the sound of the contrabass in its fullest potential will find this a bracing and even exhilarating listen! Do give it your ears, if you can!

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