Joelle Leandre / Maguelone Vidal / Raymond Boni: trace (2009)
Improvised music is created on the spur of the moment, the players looking for the common thread from which they can go in different directions as they spin their story. The logic of continuity is integral, even if they build it in pieces that may at first seem incongruent. Bassist/vocalist Joëlle Léandre, saxophonist/vocalist Maguelone Vidal and guitarist Raymond Boni blend their instruments and imaginations, delving into the unusual and fathoming the unexpected. The end result is fascinating.
Léandre has a large body of recorded work, a testament to her ability to see beyond boundaries. The seed for this was planted when she listened to and was influenced by Derek Bailey, Anthony Braxton and George Lewis, but it's her own germane sense of invention that has made her a dynamic staple of improvised music.
Boni first studied piano and then harmonica before taking to the guitar, where he learned his craft from Gypsies. Django Reinhardt created an impression but so, too, did Cecil Taylor. Boni's wide interests have placed him in a comfort zone in a wide array of styles over the years and he finds it once more on this recording.
Vidal who is also active on the French scene has performed in trio settings with singer Dalila Khatir and bassist Amanda Gardon. The underlying force is improvisation and experiment, and Vidal is adept at both.
Recorded live, this CD provides the ideal setting for the trio. The acuity is instant as they fuse several shades into the music. Interaction is key but so are long lines of melody, fragments that jump and shard, careening lines and cool guitar chords. It all works together superbly.
"le passe" has Léandre bowing a broad spectrum of phrases, changing the intensity and the thrust, adding drone while keeping the mood constantly compelling. Vidal stretches phrases, breathes heavily for added brassiness, a voice crying out loud against percussive taps and glissandi until it all rises into an explosive swell. "tube," on the other hand, kicks into high gear with voice, sax and bass. Words fall in a maze of sound complemented by the saxophone whooshing eerily. And just before silence drops its veil, the guitar counts down the final moments in a short but compellingly well-spun idea.
The three artists fuse melody, atonality and cohesion particularly well on the sweltering "gros dilemme." Stirred by the fire in their souls, the momentum is tensile, the thrust constant and the pulse pliant. Léandre, Vidal and Boni spin their tales with an insight that nails the attention.
Track Listing: ada; joseph et joseph; la passe; cumulus (ÀMadame Louise); des prunes; tube; tractile; gros dilemma; improbable v.; de mon ef....
Personnel: Joëlle Léandre: double-bass, voice; Maguelone Vidal: soprano and baritone saxophones, voice, tom bass; Raymond Boni: guitar.