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Joëlle Léandre - At Souillac en Jazz

Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes


It’s unnaturally hot these days. Hardly anything can wake up my spirit, housed in a frame that – though trained rather severely – with disturbing frequency is having problems in rebooting on a daily basis. 

But a CD by Joëlle Léandre appears on the horizon, and shakes the slumbering neurons. 

There had actually been a nice sign today. The alternating presence of blackcaps and orioles around the house, their uplifting song an appeal to keep belief in something marvelously immaculate. A rare purity in the giant puddle of a humanity almost totally coerced into submission by sick individuals who want to accumulate more and more wealth. In spite of the fact that in a fleeting moment they, too, will die. 

Speaking of birds, Léandre is committed to vocalizing during “comprovisation,” as those who have been following her since the beginnings know well. She does so in parts of this specific set, recorded at the Saint-Jacques Church of Calès in July 2021. The acoustics of that particular environment obviously foster a full-bodied reverberation, within which the artist offers recurrent cues of cultured yet unpretentious self-dialectic, mainly expressing herself through the majestic resonance of the double bass. 

Exactly as Léandre has accustomed us to – at once bombastic, subtle, and direct to the point – her sound does not engulf the audience, but hints at hypothetical itineraries. She urges us to stir the body, crushed by the drudgery of quotidian, and to pull our dynamic kernel out of the humdrum that attempts to asphyxiate everyone’s best intentions. Atonal zigzags resembling sturdy butterflies. Violent hits on the strings. Repetitive drones. Priceless harmonics extracted by one of the most perceptive bows in the history of the “big box”. And that beautifully unique Léandre humor, between lyricism and buffoonery.

A sigh of relief, after music of such fervency. Intelligence still exists.