Marc Ducret - Joëlle Léandre: Chez Hélène

Glenn Astarita By

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The audience in attendance at the 19PaulFort venue in Paris, France must have been spellbound after witnessing these prolific and highly influential improvisers wield their magic. As leaders and collaborators bassist Joëlle Léandre and guitarist Marc Ducret have pretty much done it all over the years, evidenced by their extensive discographies. Here, the bassist is a galvanized catalyst via her fervent and precise strumming and impossibly fast bowing patterns as Ducret is often the colorist as they counterbalance each other with unbridled synergy amid tender and ferocious dialogues along with some playful tinkering. On these works the duo doesn't water anything down but takes care of business like the pros they are with chameleonic changes, where themes are renewed into variable phrasings and disparate tonal attributes with innumerable mini-motifs.

Ducret's caustic distortion-tinged lines and torrid exchanges often ride above Léandre's buzzing and turbulent underpinnings. At times they seem as though they're whipped into a frenzied spiritual encounter. But they retool and regenerate their thought processes with split-second counterattacks. However, "Vibration" is a piece sparkling with the guitarist's fuzz-toned, avant-garde framed grunge licks as Léandre's arco passages act like a weaving timestamp leading to a pulsating and intense playbook, discombobulated by Ducret's chopping chords and fleeting passages.

"Invocation" begins with the bassist's streaming notes and rhythmic progressions. And they toggle between horizontal and vertical developments atop an undulating groove, offset by Ducret's bizarre voicings that Léandre encircles and mimics. She even fluctuates her strings to stir imagery of a horde of locusts whizzing by. Afterwards the audience bestows rousing applause, which is a fitting finale and testament to the duo's masterful creations, gleaming discourses and hyperactive hell-raising.

Track Listing

Observation; Ponctuation; Vibration; Invocation.


Marc Ducret: electric guitar; Joëlle Léandre: double bass.

Album information

Title: Chez Hélène | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Ayler Records


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