Joelle Leandre: No Comment (2007)
This is a reissue of a set first put out in 2001. It features bassist and vocalist Joelle Leandre in a set of solo performances in which she exploits the full sonic potential of her instrument. As a stalwart of both free improvisation and contemporary composition, it's perhaps unsurprising how she manages to reconcile these seemingly disparate fields. What might not be so predictable is the compelling way she goes about the business; the results are admirable in their expressiveness and individuality.
Her work here is about a whole lot more than conventional technique, even though it's clear she has that in abundance. On "No Comment 2" she brings together her knowledge of the bass' sonic potential with vocal lines that hint at an impish sense of humor, whilst on "No Comment 6" she offers up what could be a sideways glance at Phillip Glass's strand of minimalism, even if the end result does perhaps inevitably lack the formalism that might imply.
The average track length here is around six minutes, in a sense that's both a plus and a minus. On the positive side of things there isn't an idea that outstays its welcome, but on "No Comment 7" and in other places, Leandre seems to generate such an abundance of ideas that more time spent in development and expansion would only have been welcome. Her voice is so integral to how the music evolves, it's clear that what we have here is a musician unwilling to abide by the tried and trusted.
"No Comment 3," where Leandre makes full use of her bow, furthermore shows how aware she is of timbral implications even within a relatively formal setting; hers is a fierce and seemingly insatiable musical curiosity.
Solo bass music has hardly been widely documented on record to date, and this state of affairs renders this set slightly anomalous. Once that trivial point is disregarded, however, the fact remains that this is the work of a deeply committed player.
Track Listing: No Comment 1; No Comment 2; No Comment 3; No Comment 4; No Comment 5; No Comment 6; No Comment 7; No Comment 8; No Comment 9.
Personnel: Joelle Leandre: bass, voice.