French baritone saxophonist Daunik Lazro
and double bass master Joëlle Léandre
began to collaborate almost thirty years ago. This collaboration has yielded one trio recording, Sweet Zee
(Hathut, 1984 with trombonist George Lewis
), two quartet recordings, Paris Quartet
(IIntakt, 1989, with pianist Irene Schweizer
, and trombonist Yves Robert, and Madly you
(Potlatch, 2002, with violinist Carlos Zingaro
and percussionist Paul Lovens
), and one filmed duo in the Léandre documentary Basse continue
(Hors oeil éditions, 2008) as well as many other unrecorded performances. Their fifth documented collaboration is more intimate, recorded in December 2011 in the town Hasparren in the Basque region of southwestern France.
The set of five free improvised duets and one solo improvisation of Léandre, all named after the Hasparren town, is surprisingly disciplined and introspective given these two experienced and opinionated improvisers recorded history. Lazro and Léandre immediately establish a collaborative and supportive interplay. Both focus on the profound, often deep-toned and even micro-tonal characteristics of any sound, Lazro on the vibrating low register of the baritone sax and Léandre with superb arco playing. There are few segments of more powerful and intense dialogue especially on the second and last duet, still, both keep the tight, respectful interplay, never losing touch with the other's ideas, simply demonstrating the breadth of their shared musical vocabulary.
The fourth and longest duet, almost 13 minutes, feature best the common, reserved interaction of this meeting. This improvisation is built on spare, raw and impressionistic sounds, first with Lazro methodically exploring the resonating tones of the baritone sax. Then Léandre expands a sonic course with intense, deep-toned arco playing while commenting on Lazro's ideas with irony and passion, but both choose to conclude this improvisation with a gentle lyrical duet. Léandre's solo is a brilliant showcase of her wild imagination, but is again offered in a restrained manner.
Beautiful meeting of two heavyweights of the European free improvisation scene.