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Léandre/Houle/Strid - Last Seen Headed

Grego Edwards, gapplegatemusicreview

There is so much good free improvisation going on in Europe that it's almost daunting to keep up with it. That's a good problem to have, as my old boss used to say.

Today we have another one of great interest. It's a recent live recording entitled Last Seen Headed (Ayler). The venue is Sons d'Hiver in France. The group is a fortuitous (as in fortunate) gathering of three interesting souls. Joelle Leandre plays the upright bass. She has gained a reputation for her bass-vocalisms and here we get less of the vocalisms and more of the bass. It turns out that perhaps I wasn't paying enough attention to her bass playing on previous recordings because she sounds great here. Whether plucking or bowing, she coaxes some fabulous phrases and sounds from her instrument, setting up a perfect context for the loose and wiry clarinets of Francois Houle. He sounds quite wonderful on this one as well and has to be one of the premier out clarinetists active today. There are moments where he invokes a kind of Evan Parker-on-clarinet in his cascades of repeating motifs, but then he goes right ahead and casts that aside to just wail. Finally, Raymond Strid mans the drums and gets a universe of sounds and attacks.

The trio creates a huge, blustery gigantism of free sounds at times; other times they are quieter. But either way they are into a zone that is a real pleasure to hear. Bravo!