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Joëlle Léandre: At the LeMans Jazz Festival

This two-disc package presents the dexterous bassist Joëlle Léandre in performance with five sets of free improvisers at the 2005 LeMans Jazz Festival. Disc one begins with a trio that includes vocalist Maggie Nicols and pianist Irene Schweitzer. The group’s music is charged with a sense of common purpose. Nicols mostly avoids the melodramatic glissing and ululations that mar the wordless vocals of lesser improvisers. Schweitzer is a percussive, reactive pianist-intense and extremely imaginative. Léandre ably negotiates the incorporeal region between texture and melody.

Léandre’s three meetings with fellow bassist William Parker are less interesting, in part because the screech of two bassists simultaneously scraping out upper harmonics is one of the most unpleasant sounds known to humankind. It’s much better when one or the other plays pizzicato.

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