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Joan Jeanrenaud: Visual Music

Karl Ackermann By

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Cellist Joan Jeanrenaud had been a member of the celebrated Kronos Quartet for more than twenty years when, she found herself sidelined with a serious health issue. Following an extended leave from music she embarked on a solo career, turning out the highly-regarded albums, Strange Toys (Talking House, 2008), Metamorphosis (New Albion, 2009) and—in association with PC Munoz—Pop-Pop (Deconet Records, 2010).

On Visual Music Jeanrenaud is reunited with percussionist Munoz on three tracks, William Winant on vibraphone and Dohee Lee on recorder and electronics, each appearing on a single track. The various percussive effects are added to Jeanrenaud's overlaid cello tracks, where she has employed a variety of effects and techniques. The advantage of this improvising out of real-time is clear in Jeanrenaud's results, as she builds through her delivery of ideas and structures.

The seventeen original pieces that make up Visual Music are, not surprisingly, dominated by classical underpinnings, though much of Jeanrenaud's work is not so easily classified. Compositions such as "Solo Prelude," "Isola," and "St. Paul" certainly fit more comfortably in the classical category but Jeanrenaud's virtuosity in that genre is often more of a jumping-off point. "Harmonic Harlem" is a case in point as the Americana style opening works into a more modern and complex texture, really bringing the cellist's avant-garde sensibility to the forefront. Similarly, "Dead Reckoning" and "Harlem Strut" feature percolating percussive effects from Jeanrenaud and Munoz, bringing an adamant beat and insistence to the music.

In terms of outright musical complexity, Jeanrenaud's mission for Visual Music is not of the order of magnitude she produced with Kronos. That's all for the better as it allows her playing to stand out more clearly. There are plenty of moments where it's not obvious where Jeanrenaud will take the music next as she comfortably swerves from deep bottom notes to angular diversions. This is a great example of borderless creative music.

Track Listing: Solo Prelude; Pilasters; Harmonic Harlem; Isola; Spinario, Dead Reckoning; Hypocrite; Puzzle; St. Paul; Harlem Strut; Winter; Oulipo; This Is Not A Duet; Bacchanal; Moon Above; Virgin & Child; Ethereal Tree.

Personnel: Joan Jeanrenaud: cello; PC Munoz: Marimbata (3), cajon (6); drum kit (10); William Winant: Vibraphone (8), Dohee Lee, recorder, electronics (4).

Title: Visual Music | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Deconetrecords

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