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På skive

JOËLLE LÉANDRE

«Beauty / Resistance»
NOTTWO RECORDS, MW1013-2

Polish acoustic bass guitarist, who wrote the liner notes to «Beauty / Resistance», describes the role of artists as opposing the Platonic ideal state, who always disrupt the so-called secured but uniform social order with their eccentric and subversive ideas, and keep stimulating our imagination. According to Mazur, beauty is always resisting the standardization and mechanization of such «idealist worlds», and obviously, musicians, who act without words but their work is suggestive, are the most resistant ones.

The music, artistic aesthetics, and now even the legacy of the great French double bass player Joëlle Léandre fits perfectly into this concept of «Beauty / Resistance». Beauty is resistance and both beauty and resistance characterize her work. Léandre often uses the saying of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze: to create is to resist. And, obviously, she defies familiar categorizations and conventions, she is rebellious and seeking freedom, uncompromising and unpredictable, but also harmonious, mischievous and her work is open before anyone, without intellectual meditation.

«Beauty / Resistance» collects three live recordings from the Krakow Jazz Autumn Festival 2019 in Alchemia club in Krakow, during Léandre’s residence. On the first disc Léandre meets Polish comrades – clarinetist Mateusz Rybicki and fellow double bass player Zbigniew Kozera (both recorded before a duo album, «Xu», MultiKulti Project, 2017), and Slovenian drummer Zlatko Kaučič, a close collaborator of Léandre, who recently recorded with her as part of the Jubileum quartet (with sax hero Evan Parker and Agustí Fernández, «A Uiš ?», NotTwo, 2020). The first, 33-minute piece begins with a storm. Clarinetist Rybicki dictates a restless, intense and even confronted interplay, but patiently Léandre takes the lead and suggests a more introspective, chamber atmosphere, and later the quartet even explores a delicate and lyrical melodic theme. The second, shorter piece begins in a similar manner with a playful and energetic introduction by Rybicki until Léandre again takes the lead and colors it with enlightening, subversive shades.

The second disc is a duo with Kaučič. He played a reserved role in the first disc but Léandre and he already have developed a close affinity and enjoy searching and inventing new sonic universes and colors. Kaučič knows Léandre well and more importantly, he knows how to adapt his imaginative palette of percussive sounds to her free-associative stream of ideas and how to provoke her into wild and eccentric dances, enjoy poetic conversations, or share intimate secrets. Léandre and Kaučič sound as one sonic entity as if they share the same sense of humor and a fascinating sonic imagination that does not recognize earthly borders. They simply fly all over, from the deep tones of the bass to the celestial, resonating bells and to exotic, folky territories in between.

Léandre loves to play with bass players-brothers and has played duets with Peter Kowald, Barre Phillips, William Parker and many more. The third disc is a duo with acoustic bass guitarist Mazur, who holds his guitar like a small double bass and often plays on it with a bow. Léandre and Mazur find immediately a common and emphatic language, a nuanced, inventive and insightful language that becomes deeper and more colorful as the set progresses, and a language that explores the timbral characteristics of the respective basses. Léandre leads the five duets but she is a generous leader who leaves a lot of room for Mazur, and both perform with a sense of poetic interplay, playfulness, elegance, and, naturally, beauty and resistant spirit.

Mazur summarizes this remarkable meeting: «two duets and a quartet are three albums (2 + 2 + 4 = 3). A simple break with the rules. And just beautiful».

Eyal Hareuveni  

Joëlle Léandre (b, v), Zlatko Kaučič (dr, perc), Mateusz Rybicki (cl), Zbigniew Kozera (b), Rafał Mazur (ac.bg)

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