Joëlle Léandre & Nicole Mitchell | Sisters Where | RogueArt Jazz

rogueart jazz

Joëlle Léandre: double bass | Nicole Mitchell: flute, alto flute

All compositions by Joëlle Léandre and Nicole Mitchell

Recorded on February 20th 2013 by Jean-Marc Foussat at «ROGUEART», Paris, France. Mixing and Mastering: Jean-Marc Foussat. Photographs: Frank Bigotte. Cover design: Max Schoendorff. Cover realisation: David Bourguignon. Producer: Michel Dorbon

Tracklist: 1. Sisters on Venus (6:51) 2. Sisters on Uranus (9:22) 3. Sisters on Mercury (8:39) 4. Sisters on Mars (6:13) 5. Sisters on Saturn (8:18) 6. Back on Earth (3:07)

Neither one nor the other has a role to play: Joelle and Nicole are there to invent. One would be nothing but softness, the other nothing but force? But here it is that the first flies off in full force and the other accompanies all in softness. Perfectly pitched. Total improvisation. Musical dance on the jazzistic fields flying carpet. If needs be, they invent each other forming that double woman who has fear of nothing, who does not retreat in the face of any joke any savagery any melancholy any beauty any liberty. Now and again the strings have breath and the flute vibrates. What is there of intentional, of prepared, of established by tacit convention? Nothing or next to nothing, who cares: these two virtuosos have nothing to do with their virtuosity if not to put it to the service of quivering developments. — François-René Simon, excerpt from liner notes

Joëlle Léandre & Nicole Mitchell | Sisters Where | rogueart jazz

Alter equals

Duo, dual, Joelle, Nicole. Dual, because one and the other are body and thought, knowledge and spontaneity, lyricism and concentration. They are themselves, along with their respective instruments already exploited from every angle: Ni-cole, with a maestria as natural as a gust of wind, uses continuous breathing when convenient, goes from her voice to that of her flute in a thousandth of a second, kisses it on the mouthpiece, dismantles it to obtain other sounds, slides her fin-gers over the keys, what do I know. To sum up, she plays (with) her flute. Joelle, on her double bass, massages the strings with the bow under the bridge at the same time using pizzicato with her left hand (a real butterfly of a hand!) lances harmon-ics like invisible birds, suddenly develops a force capable of shaking the windows and raising hearts, groans or sings or groans while singing or vice versa, what do I know. And of course, she plays (with) her double bass. But in this duo where each one could say “I am the other”, who comes first? No one, because neither has a role to play. Their parallel roads cross one another like railway tracks in a station which would be itself a landscape, unexplored, to be explored, this is their communal decision: a landscape which is invented while being explored as one goes along. The vegetation is not necessarily unknown. Listen to the blues leaves growing, the oriental branches singing, the wild grasses swarming, the cries of animals resurrected from their extinction. But neither one nor the other has a role to play: Joelle and Nicole are there to invent. One would be nothing but softness, the other nothing but force? But here it is that the first flies off in full force and the other accompanies all in softness. Perfectly pitched. Total improvisation. Musical dance on the jazzistic fields flying carpet. If needs be, they invent each other forming that double woman who has fear of nothing, who does not retreat in the face of any joke any savagery any melancholy any beauty any liberty. Now and again the strings have breath and the flute vibrates. What is there of intentional, of prepared, of established by tacit convention? Nothing or next to nothing, who cares: these two virtuosos have nothing to do with their virtuosity if not to put it to the service of quivering developments. And because this recording took place in the intimacy of a Parisian apartment, question the walls: they are still quivering. — Francois-Rene Simon (translation Mary Alleyrat)

Joëlle Léandre & Nicole Mitchell | Sisters Where | rogueart jazz

Alter égales

Duo, duelles, Jodle, Mitchell, que d’l ! que d’elles ! que d’ailes ! Oui, duelles, parce que l’une et l’autre sont corps et pensée, savoir et spontanéité, lyrisme et attention. Elles sont aussi elles-mêmes et leur instrument respectif, déjà exploité sous toutes ses coutures : Nicole, à la maestria aussi naturelle qu’un coup de vent, pratique à sa convenance le souffle continu, passe en un millième de seconde de sa voix à celle de sa flûte, l’embrasse sur l’embouchure, la démonte pour obtenir d’autres sons, fait glisser ses doigts sur les clés, que sais-je. En somme, sa flûte, elle (s’)en joue. Joëlle, sa contrebasse, elle en malaxe les cordes à l’archet sous le chevalet tout en pratiquant le pizzicato de la main gauche (un vrai papillon, cette main !), envoie des harmoniques comme des oiseaux invisibles, développe sou-dain une force à faire trembler les vitres et à soulever les coeurs, râle ou chante ou râle en chantant et inversement, que sais-je. Et bien sûr, sa contrebasse, elle (s’)en joue. Mais dans ce duo où chacune pourrait dire « Je suis l’autre », qui précède ? Personne, car aucune n’a de rôle à jouer. Leurs routes parallèles se croisent comme les voies ferrées d’une gare qui serait elle-même un paysage, inexploré, à explorer, c’est là leur décision commune : un paysage qui s’invente au fur et à mesure qu’on l’explore. La végétation n’y est pas forcément inconnue. Écoutez pousser les feuilles de blues, chanter les branches orientales, grouiller les herbes folles, résonner les cris des animaux ressuscités de leur extinction. Mais ni l’une ni l’autre n’a de rôle à jouer : Joëlle et Nicole sont là pour inventer. L’une ne serait que douceur, l’autre ne serait que puissance ? Mais voilà que la première s’envole tout en puissance et que l’autre l’accompagne tout en douceur. Oreille(s) absolue(s). Improvisation totale. Danse musicale sur le tapis volant du champ jazzistique. Au besoin, elles s’inventent l’une l’autre pour ne plus former que cette dame double qui n’a peur de rien, ne recule devant aucune facétie aucune sauvagerie aucune mélancolie aucune beauté aucune liberté. Par mo-ments les cordes ont du souffle et la flûte vibre. Qu’y a-t-il ici d’intentionnel, de préparé, d’établi par tacite convention ? Rien ou presque et qu’importe : ces deux virtuoses n’ont que faire de leur virtuosité sinon la mettre au service de rebondis-sements frémissants. Et puisque cet enregistrement a eu lieu dans l’intimité d’un appartement parisien, interrogez les murs : ils en frémissent encore. — François-René Simon

Joëlle Léandre & Nicole Mitchell | Sisters Where | rogueart jazz

 

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One thought on “Joëlle Léandre & Nicole Mitchell | Sisters Where | RogueArt Jazz

  1. Sisters Where forms another installment in the fertile collaboration between French bassist Joëlle Léandre and American flutist Nicole Mitchell, following on from Before After (Rogue Art, 2011) and Flowing Stream (Leo Records, 2014). One enduring feature of the pairing is the attractive opposition of high and low ends represented by their respective axes, although of course Léandre can effortlessly traverse that divide with her virtuosic bow handling. What further helps make the session work so well is that each includes a healthy dose of lyricism in their discourse, alongside more extended techniques. But it is their sense of improvisatory fun which undercuts what might occasionally pass as a demure classical recital.

    Both are consummate performers, and it’s a given that anything they are involved in will achieve high standards. Renowned for her unique synthesis of flute and voice, which she blends so they are near impossible to disentangle, Mitchell almost transcends her instrument. For her part Léandre mixes drive and ceaseless variation with a deep resonance, while her vocals add a further layer of possibility, without ever veering into overbearing theatricality. In tandem they create a winning combination, whether through unity in converging phrases, or separation via freewheeling counterpoint, like a pas de deux in contemporary dance.

    The 42-minute program comprises six joint inventions captured live in Paris in early 2013. On “Sisters on Venus” passages of delicately intertwining flute multiphonics and arco overtones confirm the twosome’s appeal. Other highlights include the dashing bowing matched by spiralling outpouring of flute melody, like a lark ascending on “Sisters on Uranus,” while for “Sisters on Mercury” Mitchell alternates between flute and squeaky voice, with trills and plosives, which prompts Léandre to switch to a staccato attack. On the same cut, the American astounds by drawing two simultaneous tones from her flute.

    Later during the atmospheric “Sisters on Saturn,” they craft a soaring edifice from a drone punctuated by short energetic flurries, eliciting deservedly enthusiastic applause from the audience at the close. It presages a brief encore—”Sisters on Earth”—in which singing lines deconstruct into croaks and whispers before eventual silence. The only downside to a compelling set comes in a somewhat cavernous sound which results in a loss of clarity and detail, particularly on the flute.

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