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Contrabassist Joëlle Léandre and West Coast woodwind player Phillip Greenlief work out 11 different compositions between their two respective instruments and voices on That Overt Desire of Object. The flexibility and space that each provides the other seems to be reflected in the line note comments about the negative effects of greed. The title is a variation of the Luis Buñuel movie That Obscure Object of Desire (1977), with a playing field that appears a bit more level when compared to the bassist's 2009 duo with Anthony Braxton, Duo (Heidelberg Loppem) 2007 (Leo Records, 2009).
Each set of variations revolves around Greenlief alternating axes between clarinet, and soprano, alto and tenor saxophones. The music consciously avoids cliché's and does not fall into any old jazz sand traps, but neither does it approach anything that would be labeled "atonal." There is a very real-time instinctive communication level between the two that encourages unexpected turns and leaves no place for predictability moving beyond jazz. The last two tracks, each around 11 minutes, appear to be the "feats of strength" end of the agenda, with both playing solo and each doing lyric-less voice responses as a foil. On "1st Variation for soprano saxophone and voice," Greenlief plays furiously, careening into sputters and eventually leading to a crescendo of circular breathing before stopping the ride. "1st Variation for contrabass and voice" finds Léandre making every bow stroke, pluck, body slap and phrase count. It is in this track where the individual stamp of Léandre's sound is clearly heard, letting her discipleship of John Cage pay out in full.
Repeated active listens are recommended for this CD to take in all of the different woodwinds used, with very different contrabass responses to each being heard as all of the variations play out.
Track Listing: 1st Variation for clarinet and contrabass; Variation 2; Variation 3; 1st Variation for soprano saxophone and contrabass; Variation 2; 1st Variation for alto saxophone and contrabass; Variation 2; 1st Variation for tenor saxophone and contrabass; Variation 2; 1st Variation for soprano saxophone and voice; 1st Variation for contrabass and voice.
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.