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Théo Ceccaldi Trio + 1: Can You Smile? (2013)

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Théo Ceccaldi Trio + 1: Can You Smile? How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Prominent French violinist Théo Ceccaldi invited gifted bassist and supreme improviser Joëlle Léandre to augment the core trio for an album that contains semi-structured works, spanning a gamut of loosely orchestrated styles and genres. They touch on nouveau chamber, free-jazz, and avant-garde rock, but their omnipresent improvisational exchanges loom as the reigning factor.

Léandre often acts as an instigator, where the performers fuse a multitude of hues, contrasts and coarse strings manipulations with minimalistic sojourns, understated delicacies and some unexpected shock-therapy type passages, namely via Guillaume Aknine's hardcore rock guitar riffs. Variety is a positive influence on this studio date.

On "Lucien le chat," Léandre's massive arco notes complement the strings section's gentile phrasings and Aknine's off- center blues licks. However, shifting tides are a constant. For example, "Beat Often" features the guitarist's brash crunch chords, spawning an unorthodox musical climate in tandem with Léandre's fleeting vocals over-the-top. But they hurry the pace, leading to swiftly executed unison choruses, equating to a sense of urgency.

The band synthesizes numerous variables and delightfully veers off the axis on occasions. At times, the respective musicians intertwine oddball sounds such as, sawing strings movements, closed- hand plucking with opposing rhythmic forces and classical-like staccato phrasings. And during "Hirondelles," they institute swirling cadenzas, thrown off-center by Aknine's heavy metal voicings and EFX processing. Essentially, the band throws the listener for a loop. Among other insights, Can You Smile? shows that the avant-garde space can be a fun-filled joyride and not always saturated with overly cerebral austerity.

Track Listing: Bonjour; Lucien le chat; Je ne suis pas; Beat Often; Sirenes et bas de laine; Brosse a Chaussure; Hirondelles; Can You Smile?; Brosse a Moustaches; Ca fait rien; Pruneau sur le gateau.

Personnel: Théo Ceccaldi: violin, viola; Guillaume Aknine: guitars; Valentin Ceccaldi: cello; Joëlle Léandre: double bass, voice.

Record Label: Ayler Records


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