Nicole Mitchell | Joëlle Léandre | Dylan van der Schyff | Before After | RogueArt Jazz

rogueart jazz

Joëlle Léandre: double bass | Nicole Mitchell: flute, alto flute, piccolo | Dylan van der Schyff: drums, percussions

Recorded live on July 3rd 2009 by Simon Garber at Roundhouse Community Center, Vancouver (Canada). Mixing and Mastering: Jean-Marc Foussat. Liner Notes: Alexandre Pierrepont. Photographs: X, Bob fila, Dexter van der Schyff. Cover Design: Max Schoendorff. Cover Realisation: David Bourguignon, URDLA. Producer: Michel Dorbon

This performance took place as part of the 2009 Vancouver International Jazz Festival. RogueArt warmly thanks Ken Pickering, Raibow Robert and the Coastal Jazz & Blues Society

Tracklist: 1. Before before (17:26) 2. After Before (8:48) 3. Before After (9:15) 4. After After (7:39)

Never one voice above the others

all voices fan-shaped in the presence of oneself and the other. To all that, one verb in all tenses – before, during, after – and for a thousand and one actions: to play, to make what has just been said, written, or dreamed play, always in a spirit of rapture. To make things play to bring out the beauty of things into a state of existence. — Excerpt from the liner notes, written by Alexandre Pierrepont

Nicole Mitchell |  Joëlle Léandre |  Dylan van der Schyff | Before After | rogueart jazz

Joëlle Léandre

In September 2011

French double bassist Joëlle Léandre will celebrate her 60th birthday. To mark the occasion, Leo has already released a fine double-disc featuring Léandre in a tentet and a trio. Now, Before After deserves to take pride of place alongside it. Recorded live at Roundhouse Community Center, as part of the 2009 Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Before After finds Léandre in a trio with Vancouver resident, drummer and percussionist Dylan van der Schyff plus Chicagoan Nicole Mitchell on flute, alto flute and piccolo.

Mitchell is a virtuoso flautist who regularly tops the Rising Star Flute section in the Downbeat Critics’ Poll, 2011 being the latest occasion. She is a fluent soloist able to improvise flowing melodic lines while maintaining a warm, full-bodied tone. Even in the upper register, she never produces the kind of shrillness that turns some listeners away from jazz flute; on the contrary, she seems likely to make converts to it. She has a particularly impressive solo feature at the start of “After Before.” (With impeccable logic, the album’s four tracks are entitled “Before Before,” “After Before,” “Before After” and “After After.”)

Nicole Mitchell |  Joëlle Léandre |  Dylan van der Schyff | Before After | rogueart jazz

Dylan van der Schyff

With such a soloist, it would have been easy for this trio to become flute plus rhythm section — but it is not in the nature of Léandre or van der Schyff to just play that role, adept as they can be at it. Instead, the trio frequently becomes an equal three-way conversation dominated by none of them, best demonstrated on the title track. Léandre is in a characteristically playful mood, investing the music with a happy-go-lucky lightness. As so often, she underpins the trio, subtly shaping and steering its music with her contributions. In typical fashion, these include her use of voice as well as double bass. Later on in the extended opening track, as it’s in danger of flagging, Léandre injects wordless vocals into a duet with the flute, soon joined by van der Schyff. It provides just the shot in the arm the piece requires and sees it through to a thoroughly satisfying conclusion.

Time and again, Léandre demonstrates that she is adept in the art of the duo, either with Mitchell or van der Schyff… or even between her own bass and voice. On “After Before,” we are treated to a call-and-response section between bass and flute that bursts with playfulness and invention. The bassist does not steal the show — that would be out of character. Instead, the album ends up as a delightful case study in successful trio improvisation. — By John Eyles

Nicole Mitchell |  Joëlle Léandre |  Dylan van der Schyff | Before After | rogueart jazz

Nicole Mitchell

Flutist Nicole Mitchell’s strong attachment to the Vancouver creative scene

has borne unpredictable fruit. She has been an artist in residence at the city’s International Jazz Festival from 2006-2010, but it was only when bassist Joëlle Léandre was likewise featured, in 2009, that the two combined, along with Vancouver native Dylan van der Schyff behind the drums, for the performance documented here as Before After.

Over four collective inventions in a 43-minute program, the three participants reach an understanding predicated upon exploration of texture, an egalitarian outlook and the unforced melding of advanced techniques. Léandre is the mistress of such irregular meetings, bringing her formidable classical technique to bear in kaleidoscopic outpouring, sometimes abrasive but not afraid to be tuneful. As always, her voice is an important part of her armory and in that she finds common ground with Mitchell whose wonderful vocalized flute lines continually dance on either side of the divide separating instrument and larynx, spiced with unexpected low growls and flutters. She sounds like no-one else, having extended the legacy of pioneering flutist James Newton, thanks to the opportunities afforded by her higher pitched voice to blend ambiguously with her instrumental sound. Van der Schyff takes a back seat in such esteemed company, but he nonetheless acquits himself well, with his everything-but-the-kitchen-sink clatter providing a subtly evolving backdrop.

Assured self-expression and unfettered interplay form the dominant suit. The opening “Before Before” proposes a propulsive give and take, affirming that flute and arco bass make an alluring combination, particularly noteworthy in the final interweaving of bowed harmonics and blown upper partials. Mitchell is prominent at the start of “After Before,” her breathy alto flute intro demonstrating the full extent of her prowess before the Frenchwoman’s energetic sawing precipitates a game of chase. Once the drummer adds momentum, Mitchell switches to piccolo, producing extreme contrasts of pitch with Léandre’s rich bass register.

Van der Schyff introduces “Before After” through an engaging examination of dynamics, pitching sharp crashes against faint taps and modulated percussion, presaging a duet with the bassist’s darkly melodic abstractions, while the concluding “After After” revisits some of the territory from the opener after an initial duet for timbrally adventurous percussion and Mitchell’s patented flute/voice amalgam. Although Léandre can tend to dominate in some settings, if anything there is a slight tentativeness to this set which occasionally cries out for someone to take proceedings by the scruff of the neck to inspire fireworks inherent in the lineup. But no matter, there should be enough sparks to satisfy followers of either woman. — John Sharpe


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One thought on “Nicole Mitchell | Joëlle Léandre | Dylan van der Schyff | Before After | RogueArt Jazz

  1. One of the preeminent thinkers and bassists within the modern avant-jazz era, Joëlle Léandre shares equal billing on this addition to her voluminous discography. The trio’s performance, at a community center in Vancouver, Canada, offers additional credence to the understanding that free improvisation must, in boundless entities and designs, be evocative and focused to become successful. This performance engenders numerous thought-provoking persuasions; austere at times, the trio flips the coin as well, by inciting a highly entertaining gameplan.

    The interweaving storylines are enacted with concentrically flowing phrases and jagged edges, amid several tender spots. Léandre and flutist Nicole Mitchell are superb foils, and drive matters into submission during choice spots. The musicians transmit an organic outlook, wondrously accented by Dylan van der Schyff’s asymmetrical rhythms, polyrhythmic rolls and enterprising approach to the drum kit.

    The artists mimic moods and lash out with expansive tonal splashes to complement the largely, mind-bending mini-themes that intersect, subside and assume a natural order of growth. Mitchell’s twirling lines offset a quiet rumble atop Van Der Schyff’s rim shots and Léandre’s nimble developments on “Before Before.” Mitchell also casts an edge while the bassist’s lyric-less background chanting spawns a spiritual aura, as the band proclaims glee and disillusionment, which emanates into a craftily arranged paradox. With peaks, valleys, detours and vast synergy, the trio tends to pick up steam, underscored by Léandre’s ominous arco passages and diffused patterns.

    Charming, witty and designed with great focus and great understanding, several of these movements come across as composite avant-garde works. The program imprints a majestic perspective on mediums previously traversed by others, making it a mystical and irrefutably persuasive exhibition for the willing listener.

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