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«Strings Garden»

«Strings Garden» collects three free-improvised recitals – all duets – of French master of the double bass Joëlle Léandre, all with like-minded, futurist countrymen – double bass player Bernard Santacruz, cellist Gaspar Claus and violinist and viola player Théo Ceccaldi, all represent distinct aspects of cultivating the land. This 3-discs box, with a beautiful elegant and minimalist cover art, is released by the Polish label Fundacja Słucha the recently released another 3-discs box of another innovative bass player and a comrade of Léandre, Barry Guy, that offered a duo of both («Blue Horizon. Barry Guy@70 [Live At The Ad Libitum Festival 2017]» (2018).

Trees, the duo with Santacruz, with whom Léandre recorded before («Sonic Communion», Fundacja Słuchaj, 2015, with Jean-Luc Cappozzo, Douglas R. Ewart and Michael Zerang) and performs occasionally, was recorded at 22, Paris, in april 2016. Both Léandre and Santacruz, known as one of the esteemed jazz bass players in France who plays in the groups of rummers Denis Fournier and Samuel Silvant, share a mischievous spirit and an anarchic sense of humor. Their duo celebrates the powerful and dominant presence of the basses, the full spectrum of their deep-toned instruments through a series of playful and intense games that employ all possible techniques of bowing, slapping and touching the strings and the wooden bodies of the bull fiddles. «Trees No. 3» suggest compassionate, sometimes even swinging dialogue and «Trees No. 4», with the ecstatic and restless singing of Léandre, builds the tension carefully towards a wild catharsis. You can even hear both let their basses sing softly together on the final «Trees No. 6».

«Leaves», the first documented duo of Léandre with young cellist Claus, known from improvised meetings with Keiji Haino and Jim O’Rourke, contemporary music sessions with Bryce Dessner and recordings with Sufjan Stevens, was captured at Le Triton Les Lilas in July 2016. The first duet «Leaf No. 1» already sets the atmosphere – tensed and risk-taking as both attempt to grasp the possible dynamics of this first meeting beyond the intense and conflictual ones. But Léandre soon disarms the growing tension with her gentle singing on «Leaf No. 2», contrasting the nervous extended bowing techniques match. Patiently, more timbral nuances are expressed on the dark «Leaf No. 4» and both even explore a folk melody on «Leaf no. 6». Léandre employs her suggestive and emotional vocalizations and breaths to charge the intense rhythmic dance «Leaf No». that ends this meeting.

«Flowers», the duet with Ceccaldi – a former student of Léandre and a frequent colleague of her (he hosted her in his trio, «Can You Smile?», (Ayler, 2013); she hosted him in her tentet, «Can You Hear Me?», (Ayler, 2016); and both recorded the most beautiful «Elastic», Cipsela, 2016)), was recorded at the DZIK club in Warsaw in October 2017. This meeting is the most intimate and most satisfying one out of three duets. It offers a rare atmosphere of a contemplative and lyrical conversation between close and loving friends, often sounding like a contemporary chamber duet, with no vocal excursions of Léandre . There are few moments when their shared sense of humor surfaces on «Flower No, 3» (out of nine), when both pluck their strings and flirt with exotic Eastern sounds, or when they experiment with multiphonics on the melancholic «Flower No. 5». Later, a on «Flower No. 6» and «Flower No. 8» the reserved tone becomes more passionate and urgent, but «Flower No. 9» concludes this profound and somber conversation in another melancholic but most beautiful note.

CD#1 – «Trees» -(49:37): Recorded at 22, rue Victor Massé 75009 Paris on 9 of April 2016>> collaborated before on the French-American quintet with J. Played with drummers Denis Fournier and Samuel Silvant.

Eyal Hareuveni

Joëlle Léandre (d, v), Bernard Santacruz (b), Gaspar Claus (c), Théo Ceccaldi (vio, viola).

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