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“Les Diaboliques” is an expressionistic feast for the mind as told through the unique voices of bassist Joelle Leandre’, vocalist Maggie Nicols and pianist Irene Schweizer. A supergroup of sorts, these estimable performers are among the finest musicians in Europe, or on the planet for that matter as their respective accomplishments and rather lengthy resumes speak volumes.......
On Splitting Image, this Trio delve into highly conversational interaction while purveying an overall sense of melodrama throughout these sixteen pieces. “Helas!”, features the stylistic scat-like vocals of Maggie Nicols as the band improvise through countless themes and motifs while maintaining a sense of continuity and purpose. Here, Ms. Nicols vocalizes atop amiable and multi-textured chord progressions provided by pianist Irene Schweizer as Joelle Leandre maintains the protean pulse via her much heralded if not legendary expertise on double-bass. The passages are meaningful and undoubtedly interesting yet the band pursue an affable or almost casual atmosphere throughout. Maggie Nicols’ expansive vocal range and diverse tactics are spellbinding as she skirts through octaves as if it were child’s play. Schweizer and Leandre provide heaps of melody, counter-melody, contrasting undercurrents and ever-evolving thematic development. “In a Balladesque Mood” is pure theater! Here, Ms Nicols recites/vocalizes lyrics in somewhat of a mock fashion as she fuses traditional balladry with an entertaining nonchalant cabaret style approach. Nicols advances the pace on “Splitting Image” through fast and furious scat-like incantations. “Who Is Adam” offers another slice of musical improvisation along with Nicols’ operatic and at times cabaret-like spoken word iterations atop a somewhat kaleidoscopic musical backdrop.
Splitting Image is magnificent, beguiling and brimming with vivid imagery as it elicits thoughts of an off-Broadway play – complete with hefty doses of theatrical mannerisms, portrayed through music and lyric. Recommended....... * * * *
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.