home » cd catalogue » Joëlle Léandre & Pascal Contet - 3 » Kurt Gottschalk, New York City Jazz Record

Joëlle Léandre & Pascal Contet - 3

Kurt Gottschalk, New York City Jazz Record

Bassist Joëlle Léandre is, perhaps, a formalist at heart. Her classical training as a singer and instrumentalist began in her youth and included studies with John Cage, Morton Feldman and Giacinto Scelsi. But she’s a formalist who fell in love with free improvisation and whose first recordings were made with such masters of the form as guitarist Derek Bailey, trombonist George Lewis and pianist Irène Schweizer. Her best recordings often combine those two backgrounds in something often called “spontaneous composition” but might be referred to as “spontaneous formalism”. She responds well to playing partners who can meet her in the energy of the moment with an ear toward arc, dynamic and thematic progression.

Pascal Contet has been one of Léandre’s finest playing partners on that count, even if 3 is only their third record in 20 years. The accordion is a naturally emotive instrument with the cry of the reeds and the fluidity of the piano and it is all the more so in Contet’s hands. The combined voices—the reedy accordion andthe rich moans of the double bass—sound so natural together it’s a wonder the pairing hasn’t been explored more often. While the timbres are similar, they never get in each other’s way. Léandre keeps her singing to a minimum over the seven tracks, allowing the instruments to bring the emotions — the melancholy and playfulness — into the mix.