For the first collaboration between bassist Joelle Leandre and percussionist Mark Nauseef, the landscape is purely alien; Evident finds the two looking outwards, incorporating a multitude of elements into a live program that runs the gamut from the tranquil to stormy. Created without any previous discussion or forethought, Leandre and Nauseef respond to each other's leads with an interesting level of empathy.
Leandre's background is in both the new music arena, citing John Cage as a mentor, and more improvisational contexts including work with Anthony Braxton, Fred Frith, Derek Bailey and Marilyn Crispell. Her technique is broad, coaxing unusual arco harmonics out of her instrument in addition to plucking, strumming and hitting it. She can create a surprising maelstrom of sound out of a single instrument, supplementing it with unusual vocalizations that are at times melodic, other times percussive.
Nauseef has a worked in a more diverse environment, from rock bands including Thin Lizzy and Deep Purple to world music hybrids including Rabih Abou-Khalil and Miroslav Tadic; from more traditional jazz artists including Joachim Kuhn to challengers of the jazz tradition including Edward Vesala. His capabilities on both traditional percussion instruments and found objects are the perfect complement to Leandre's more avant leanings.
One is never quite sure where Leandre and Nauseef will take things. "Evident 5, for example, starts with a cacophony of percussion and a flurry of bass notes before settling into a passage that would be almost lyrical, if it weren't for the brooding undercurrent of Nauseef's percussion. Sometimes the two work together, other times they almost seem to be pulling at each other, creating a sense of tension that is only occasionally resolved. Throughout, however, they are clearly attuned to each other, as motifs seem to materialize out of the ether only to disappear as they move on to another form.
Evident is a work that challenges preconceptions and, as is the case with the best free improvisation, takes the listener through a broad spectrum of sounds, shapes and rhythms, rarely arriving in any one place for long. In the capable hands of Leandre and Nauseef, the combination of bass and percussion is enough to provide a remarkable breadth of textures, timbres and ambiences. For the open-minded listener this is a richly varied and ultimately rewarding journey.
Personnel: Joelle Leandre (contrabass, voice), Mark Nauseef (percussion, found objects)