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The Space Between with Joëlle Léandre
Marc Chénard

Gelb/Oliveros/Reason with Joëlle Léandre The Space Between 482 Music 482-1017

Brett Larner/Joëlle Léandre/Kazuhisa Uchihashi No Day Rising Spool - Line 21

Of the many distinguished practicioners of improvised music, few can rival French bassist Joëlle Léandre in terms of output. In the past year, four more titles have bolstered her already extensive discography (now compiled in a most detailed publication by Francesco Martinelli). Interestingly, these new additions have surfaced in North America, two on each side of the border. In the Fall of 2002, she became artist in residence at Mills College in California, thus affording her the chance to perform with many like-minded performers. Recorded a mere five days apart, these two sessions, cut in Oakland and Berkeley respectively, do not place the bassist in the foreground, as often happens when such special guests are invited, but find her well integrated in both contexts. In the first instance, she joins the established trio of Philip Gelb (shakuhachi), Pauline Oliveros (accordion) and Dana Reason (piano) for what can be appropriately called a "deep listening" session. All told, there are eight tracks, of which only one exceeds 10 minutes. Otherwise, we have a kind of concentrated collective approach to music-making with one or the other musician occupying a kind of lead role (e.g. pianist Reason on "Vittoria").

In the second instance, the bassist is teamed in an ad hoc encounter with Brett Larner on koto and Japanese guitarist Kazuhiro Ichihashi (equally heard on daxophone). As is the case of such first time meets, there is an element of search (and struggle) in the beginning, with some fleeting moments of confluence, but things start to coalesce in the latter half of the 13 concise takes. Generally speaking, each of the players is more interested in exploring alternate techniques on their instruments, so there is little heard of the usual guitar chording, bass strumming, and even any of the typical scalar lines from the koto. Ichahashi's sparing use of the daxophone is all the more striking in that one is not sure for a moment whether it is a voice heard or not. And speaking of voice, Léandre does not indulge in any of her pseudo-operatic shtick here (and only once does she do so on the other disc, and only towards the end of the final track). If one had to pick between these two items, the first might get the nod here, because of an already existing group chemistry in which the guest fits in like hand in glove.

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