This double CD showcases the full multiplicity of Jöelle Léandre’s talents within a variety of ensemble combinations, everything recorded between April 26 and May 1, 2005 in Le Mans. Such a varied collection inevitably presents many climaxes and some minor plateaus; despite this, the two hours are full of excellent music. The most extraordinary moments are Léandre’s duets with fellow bassist William Parker, a series of dialogues that twine round like DNA code, raising spiritual forces through spiky figurations and technical wizardry. On the same demanding level, the three tracks with violinist India Cooke (check out their Firedance on Red Toucan) are a gathering of volatile ideas that nevertheless gain a monumental weight; Léandre’s flavoursome designs work wonders with Cooke’s glissandos and elegant doodads, complemented by her heartfelt vocalizing in “Just now three”. While there’s probably no need to explain what kind of stuff the trio Les Diaboliques plays (except maybe to the person who spelled Irène Schweizer’s surname as “Schweitzer” all over the CD booklet), here they’re nicely represented by two sensitively theatrical improvisations in which singer Maggie Nicols performs the main roles in mockingly dramatic style, while Léandre and Schweizer construct and instantly destroy sets and scenery behind her. Another trio – with Mark Nauseef and Markus Stockhausen – is less satisfactory, mostly due to Stockhausen’s Miles-inflected muted trumpet, which – ironically or not, as the liners would have us believe – at times makes this sound like an outtake from Decoy. The four segments featuring the quartet of Léandre, Paul Lovens, Sebi Tramontana and Carlos Zingaro possess heart and a sense of humour, even if at times the musicians revert to tried and trusted tricks.


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