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Joëlle Léandre - At Souillac en Jazz

Eyal Hareuveni, The Free Jazz Collective *****

French master double bass player Joëlle Léandre has recorded many solo albums since the early eighties, most likely more than any other free improvising double bass player. The last one, At Souillac en Jazz, was recorded live during the festival by the same title and in the Saint-Jacques church of Calès in Lot, with the audience and two short pieces as a private after-set once the audience had left, in July 2021 by jazz journalist and film director Christian Pouget (He directed her musical portrait Affamée, 2019). Pouget, who wrote the poetic liner notes, captured beautifully the spirit of the commanding of Léandre’s tour-de-force performance: “ The huge sound, instantly gripping the body, is overwhelming far beyond the music, an experience so strong that tears flow when it comes to the sung parts. From the depths of the ages, evocative of a Native American medicine woman, an Inuit shaman, voodoo priestess or even blues woman, extracting with bare hands her strings rooted in clay, transcending the sound of her double bass, she awakens a thousand-year-old buried 'collective unconscious' with her voice of trance, inviting ancestral spirits to a form of resistance to fight all the injustices of the world, piercing with sound and love the hearts of both aficionados dreaming of impossible musical utopias and of novices stunned by her visceral ‘duende’ ”. The audience thought that Pouget was absolutely right, and obviously, me, who was fortunate enough to experience a few of Léandre’s magical and highly poetic performances, could not agree more.