When two improvisers like Joëlle Léandre and India Cooke get together, one can expect to delight in their artistry. Bristling with ideas, they ride a wide range of sound with nary a dull moment as they make judicious use of the body and strings of the violin and bass, their voices, andfor a brief whilethe rhythm of tap dancing. The concert, recorded at the 2004 Guelph Jazz Festival (an outstanding event held in Ontario, Canada), consists of seven "Firedances," each a vignette of the art of composition and the craft of improvisation.
Cooke sets up some vibrant textures as she brings in deep hues to melodies that often palpitate with the passion of classical music. She builds the momentum in consonance with Leandre as she braids her violin with the bass, going on to create several moods which come in the shimmer and glow of a lightly flexed bow, the soar of a crescendo, and the trenchant valleys she dips into with fervour.
Léandre is a palpable presence all through, adding the counterpoint, forming the base from which the violin can ricochet with its skittering notes or entwine in thick, lustrous lines. She also uses the bass as a percussive instrument, fillibrating the strings, thunking the frame and getting rhythm to dance to her beat, a gamut of expression that is seen in all of its eloquent development and fulfillment on "Firedance 3." And when percussion largely fills the framework of their exchange, they entice a heady propulsion through flecks on the violin, the use of the bow to resonate the strings and add chant, and the whoosh of breath to enhance the effect.