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Théo Ceccaldi Trio + 1: Can You Smile?

Glenn Astarita By

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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.

Title: Can You Smile? | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Ayler Records

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