Dynamic duo Mix it up in Montréal

Fabio Rojas, Musicworks, no 80, 1 juin 2001

New-musicians have taught us the valuable lesson that good music can be made with any sound, even those that were never meant to be made on a musical instrument. It might be argued that new genres of music are born when musicians take an object and make it produce new-musical sounds; witness hiphop and the advent of turntablism, or the multiphonic saxo phone playing of the ’60s American jaz avant-garde. Joëlle Léandre and Danielle Roger show that this tradition of innovation is alive and well, and Tricotage documents their recent effort Fans of Léandre won’t be disappointed Recordings like Tricotage show why she is and will continue to be one of the most outstanding contrabass players in any style of music. She consistently displays a well-developed personal vocabulary on the contrabass and puts it to good use.

The album is rather short, at fortyone minutes of free improvisation between Léandre and Roger. Léandre-ites will immediately recognize her style pizzicato, voice-like attacks mixed with often gritty arco work. Roger takes a complementary approach—she chooses to avoid loud, disruptive events like rim-shots and squeaking snare drumheads, and instead uses small bells, a lot of brush work, very occasional cymbals, and a constant trickle of mezzo-piano chatter on the middle drums. This approach is successful because it allows Roger to evoke rich textures without overwhelming the acoustic contrabass.

The flrst seconds of the recording will give the listener a teste of what is to come. Roger uses brushes to create tension by playing a sort of drum roll for a few moments, and then the release comes when Léandre enters with her sig nature chattering bass. The highlight for me is track three, Come on on on on, where it all comes together in a delicate five-minute conversation between snare drum and bass.

Each track features a different side of Léandre and Roger’s playing. Track four might be called “squeaky and plucky” and track five “nice classical bowing. “ The sixth track seems dedicated to the evocation of anxiety and its release, and the seventh to a jarring rhythmic theme. The CD ends with a brief vocalese discourse by Léandre, framed by Roger drumming.

This CD contains some good moments, and I think that any fan of this music would be happy to own a copy. Among works by Léandre, I would definitely rate it as one of the better recordings because of the role that texture plays. Roger’s restraint allows for a great deal of artistry and joy to come out. The best thing for me was to discover Danielle Roger. Not being familiar with the creative music scene in Canada, I have never heard Roger play and after hearing Tricotage, I hope to hear more of her.

This CD contains some good moments, and I think that any fan of this music would be happy to own a copy.