Few years ago French double bass great player Joëlle Léandre recommended Ayler Records to sign the chamber string trio Théo Ceccaldi 3Theo on violin, brother Valentin Ceccaldi on cello and Guillaume Aknine on the electric guitar. Last year, Ayler released the trio's impressive debut Carrousel. Now the trio pays its respects to Léandre, hosting her on its sophomore album Can You Smile?.
The title and the humorous cover suggests the spirit that Léandre introduces to the trio. The trio has evolved since its debut recording by varying its instrumentation. Théo Ceccaldi adds the viola, and Aknine the acoustic guitar expanding their sonic spectrum and taking risks with free improvisations and experimental sounds.
Léandre fits in with the trio organically. She adds a determined approach of constant searching for new sounds and colors, suggesting intuitive, deeper articulations that would broaden the interplay but never overshadows the trio with her charismatic presence. The trio welcomes the idea of open-ended, spontaneous improvisation, focused on sound-oriented interplay, as demonstrated on the spare bluesy "Lucien le chat," patiently morphed into a coherent piece, the playful "Je ne suis pas," the experimental "Sirènes et bas de laine" or the explosive "Hirondelles" where Aknine employs some distortion effects that sound as inspired from Fred Frith vocabulary.
Léandre bursts with mock beat poetry, recited in her operatic voice, inventing dramatic gibberish language on "Beat often" that challenges the trio to join to this festive, hilarious moment of making music a wild, funny play. The trio sounds as if just waited for such a moment and soon charges this improvisation with chaotic interplay. On "Brosse à chaussure" the quartet sketches a delicate and rich chamber texture, full of reserved emotion and drama. The title piece and "Ça fait rien" are mature demonstration of lightning-fast free improvisations, comprised of countless, instant, often eccentric, decisions on the course of the music, still, taken in a collective, supportive manner.
Answering this albums title questionyes, no doubt, Théo Ceccaldi Trio and Joëlle Léandre will put a smile on your face.
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