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Théo Ceccaldi Trio+1 - Can You Smile?

Grego Edwards, Gapplegate Guitar Blog

My old boss had a sign on his desk that I do not forget. "Be brief," It read. "Be brilliant. And be gone." Now those were wise words from where he sat. He had no time to waste. And the three maxims still offer food for thought. It isn't easy. The "be gone" part notwithstanding.

With the music of Can You Smile? (Ayler 136) it is a challenge. Because the music is different. Theo Ceccaldi is the leader on this date. He plays violin in interesting, free and schooled ways. Also alto. The ever-wondrous Joelle Leandre is on contrabass and vocals, and she as always makes you ponder because she is always fresh and yes, very much schooled on the bass. Guillaume Aknine plays guitar, out guitar, electric and exploring. Then Valentin Ceccaldi is on cello. Sounds good.

What this is in essence is, what, a very adventuresome, free-wheeling sort of string quartet with everybody pulling plenty of weight. It's about texture as much as it is about line-creation. The group gets a sound that nobody else does that comes to mind. There's new music components and free new-thing components, and they mix in very nice ways. There is counterpoint, improvised, some composed lines that work right, some of that very singular Joelle scat embedded in out string improvs, strident outbursts and quiet musings, densities of flurry, fury and flying riffdoms followed by contrasts expected or no, electric guitar thrashing with sophisticated string responses, quartet movements that sound concerted, pizz and bowed emanations that startle or amaze....

That is a description of what you will hear. What it doesn't say to you is how fresh this album sounds. For that you need to zero your ears in with a copy of it! I thank you for reading what might not be brilliant but is at least pretty brief. Now I'll be gone! For today...