Léandre/Houle/Strid - Last Seen Headed

Stef Gijssels, Free Jazz

No doubt this is one of the most unusual and most fascinating clarinet trios you will hear, with Joëlle Léandre on bass, François Houle on clarinet, and Raymond Strid on percussion. Together, they weave sonic environments without recognizable anchor points, except in some deepfelt unconsciousness. The pieces evolve organically, out of the sound of one instrument, a few notes emerge, the rest adds to that, shaping it further, moving it further, yet cautiously, carefully, respectfully, full of empathy and sensitivity. The end result is fragile. A freshly budded leave. An animal awakening from hibernation. Vulnerable. Surprised. Alive. Listening how out abstract sound, Léandre's bass develops the simplest of forms : a repeated hypnotic pulse of a single note. Yet how precise in giving the music a heart.

On the third track intensity increases, mayhem arises, dissonance, distress and tension take over, evolving into soaring lyricism while keeping the intensity going in the following piece, introduced by Léandre's expressive arco work. Houle follows suit, mirroring her sounds with tongue clacking, while Strid adds minimalist touches, but then the pieces opens up completely, shifting from intimate to extravert.

This is very captivating, adventurous and very rewarding music. Minimalist and powerful.