Joelle Leandre: Concerto Grosso / Mark Dresser: Unveil

Kurt Gottschalk By

Sign in to view read count
Pity the poor bull fiddle. It's taken over from the tuba as the anchor of most jazz groups, yet when its turn comes to solo it's often seen as time to chat or go to the bathroom. It more than has the range of the saxophone or guitar, but the low tones demand greater concentration to follow. Still, two of its finest players have dedicated themselves to solo performance.

Joëlle Léandre
Concerto Grosso

French bassist Joëlle Léandre has devoted much of her career to solo performance and Concerto Grosso is the latest in a line of unaccompanied releases. Like Derek Bailey (with whom she's recorded) or Cecil Taylor, Léandre has developed a language on her instrument that is dense and easily recognizable as her own. Her long bowing and percussive approach, coupled with her expressive vocalizing, are distinctive and deeply evocative. The Gasthof Loppem recording—released by the Belgian Jazz Halo label—captures two January 2005 sets across two discs (totaling 87 minutes). As with Bailey or Taylor, it's difficult to take her playing apart or to rank her performances against each other. She tends—here and in general—toward shorter improvisations; the fourteen pieces here never break the ten-minute mark. The recording is close and personal and the performance beautiful. Leandre is an artist who can't be known without being heard solo, and Concerto Grosso is an excellent place to start.

Mark Dresser
Clean Feed

Where Léandre's playing is rich and earthy, Mark Dresser has built his instrument into something almost otherworldly. With pickups embedded in the neck, his bass is loud and hyper-sensitive. Unveil—released by the Portuguese Clean Feed label—is his first solo recording with the new wiring and it's strangely striking. Overtones and finger-hammers come through on level with the more usual playing, making it sound like a multitracked recording—or perhaps like being inside the big viol. Where this comes through most strongly is on the title track, remixed by Raz Mesinai (who also produced the disc). Oddly it's one of the simpler tracks on the album, as if to point out the richness that the wiring and Dresser's playing affords.

Tracks and Personnel

Concerto Grosso

Tracks: CD1: Dans Le Sol; For Tony; Chant Du Camembert ... Fourré!; Relaps; Spirale; Le Sommeil d'Hercule; Le Viol Du Bourdon. CD2: Tara's Place; Hey, Oldies; Love; ... Col Legno, Stretto; Row Land's Length; Parlotte.

Personnel: Joëlle Léandre: bass.


Tracks: Lureal; Unveil; Clavuus; Undula; Kathrom; Cabalaba; Entwined; Pluto; For Scodanibbio; Lomus; Bacahaonne (for Israel "Cachao" Lopez).

Personnel: Mark Dresser: bass.


comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Earth Songs: Music after the Age of the Anthropocene Multiple Reviews
Earth Songs: Music after the Age of the Anthropocene
By Jakob Baekgaard
June 17, 2019
Read Joost Lijbaart: Under The Surface Multiple Reviews
Joost Lijbaart: Under The Surface
By Mark Sullivan
June 13, 2019
Read Three releases on Iluso Records Multiple Reviews
Three releases on Iluso Records
By John Eyles
May 24, 2019
Read 3x3: Piano Trios, vol. V Multiple Reviews
3x3: Piano Trios, vol. V
By Geno Thackara
May 18, 2019
Read Bill Evans and Wes Montgomery: Masters At Work Multiple Reviews
Bill Evans and Wes Montgomery: Masters At Work
By Doug Collette
May 17, 2019
Read The Sounds of Saxophones Multiple Reviews
The Sounds of Saxophones
By Jerome Wilson
April 26, 2019