Wednesday, January 16, 2013

JOËLLE LÉANDRE and AKOSH S. – Győr (2005)

Label: Reqords – REQ001
Format: CD, Album; Country: France - Released: 2005
Style: Free Improvisation
Recorded live during the Festival Mediawave in the ancient synagogue of Györ, Hungary, May 1, 2003.
Design (front cover reproduced above) by Joseph Nadj


Naturally, many strategies pursued solo can be as satisfying done in pairs. The extended mutual improvisations on Györ prove the veracity of this statement. Initially the sonic intermingling is such that it sounds as if Léandre and S could be playing different components of the same instrument, but soon the bassist advances to tremolo vibrations and the saxophonist to smeared and echoing timbres. As her bass lines fatten and become lower- pitched, he roughens his tenor tone with tongue-slaps and trills, and she responds with double and triple staccato swelling.  

Unleashing his metal clarinet, S shrills irregularly-pitched contralto chirps until Léandre ’ s encircling continuo leads to a solo section. Taking up the challenge, he reappears with intense, sonorous obbligatos that uptick to tongue-slaps, glottal punctuation, and bell-muting episodes. Finally his textures splinter into shards of trilled and popped notes in ghost registers and she continues strumming, setting up a proper backdrop on which variations can be displayed. The finale involves crooked reed whines on his part and stropped, jagged perambulating string jettes on hers. 

Even more spectacular, the nearly 25-minute “ Györ part 2 ” weaves Jewish Magyar intonation into the performance through S ’ a cappella ululation of sustained shofar-like timbres from his taragoto. After about a minute, Léandre joins in with darker, sustained double-stopping behind his ethnic-styled double-tonguing. Changing positions, the double bassist moves to the forefront, exposing variations on choked spiccato patterns that are struck near the peg box as well as the bridge. Protracted thumps then intermingle with flute tones from S, which in context sound positively bird-like and melodious. At this point, panting verbal interjections appear along with slapped and stopped plucks from Léandre. With the metal clarinet back in use, S chokes out strangled yelps in between Herculean gusts, matching the bass woman ’ s stentorian sweeps and conspirational, whispered asides. 

Not that all the notes are discordant, however. Slightly after the midpoint, S plays mellow, unaccompanied variations on the theme, with his clarinet tone as legato here as it was atonal earlier on. As trills, slurs, and ghost notes bubble through his instrument ’ s body tube, and before he reenters with wiggling tongue-stopping cadences, the bassist ratchets up her harmonic intensity, toughness, and atonality. Conclusively, the climatic crescendo reveals choked, bellowing note piles, each rougher than the next. Beginning the postlude, Léandre gentles the reedist ’ s grainy growls and irregular pitch vibrations with a soothing continuum. These sweeping harmonies dissolve into single notes, pure sounds and finally silence. 

By Ken Waxman, 21 November 2005

An interesting note:

Performance of Josef Nadj, Cécile Loyer, Joëlle Léandre and S. Akosh, December 6, 2011 at 20:30 - Theatre of Cahors - France

Links in Comments!


  1. JOËLLE LÉANDRE and AKOSH S – Győr (2005)



  2. Thankws Vitko. I've just been alerted to the wonders of Joelle Leandre.

  3. Excellent! As much as I love Joelle's playing, I am intrigued by Akosh S., unheard of by me before listening to this, and understand they have another album called " Kor".
    Any chance you have this one also?

    1. I have album, I'll put a link here in a few days.

  4. molto bene grazie!

  5. JOËLLE LÉANDRE & AKOSH S. – Kor (2008)

    Recorded live at Olympic Cafe, Paris, 2007 (?)

    01. Part 1. . . . 13:27
    02. Part 2. . . . 8:59
    03. Part 3. . . . 1:57
    04. Part 4. . . . 5:26
    05. Part 5. . . . 13:59
    06. Part 6. . . . 3:13
    07. Part 7. . . . 4:20

    Joëlle Léandre – double bass
    Akosh S. – bass clarinet, clarinet (metal), tenor & soprano sax, flute, bells

    Talking about substance, this album has more than plenty. Both musicians, Joëlle Léandre on bass and Ákosh Szelevényi on sax, clarinet and flutes, have stories to tell, more than one, they have a wealth of ideas even, but they are always compelling, avant-garde and free but strongly rooted in melody and even the tradition, be it of jazz or of folk music. Five years ago they released their first duo recording, Györ, recorded in a Hungarian synagogue and one which is easy to recommend. On this album they further explore the initial collaboration, with more variation and probably more focus, but a little less expansive. Both musicians are extremely versatile and expressive, and they manage to create an eery focus and coherence in their improvisations. "Part 1", the long first track is absolutely stunning, especially in the middle part, when Léandre's arco plays in the lowest registers and Ákosh's sax follows as deep as he can, then surfacing with a beautiful melody which evolves into a piercing wailing, and when the bass switches to pizzi, the sax goes down again, murmuring consent, losing its voice ... to be replaced by small bells, offering the space for the plucked bass which out of a short improv comes up with a hypnotic rhythm over which the sax comes gently screaming, beautifully, agonizingly, which can count on the immediate sympathy of the arco bass which goes even further in deepening the emotional expressiveness. The responsiveness of the two musicians is wonderful to hear, and despite the fact that most of the music is very avant-garde, they share a common lyricism and sense of melody which is rare in such a usually abstract environment, and when Léandre sings/shouts once in a while, as on "Part 2" it is both bizarre yet bluesy in its raw depth. "Part 3" is a short piece with an incantation-like solo from Akosh, with lots of central European folk influences, heart-wrenching ... and on "Part 6" Léandre plays an unbelievable arco solo, producing glissandos which are almost Indian in sound yet combined with powerful plucking. "Part 7" brings a great ending to the album, with the bass and Léandre's power-whispers providing the rhythmic base for another highly melodic improvisation by Akosh. Whether the pieces are long ("Part 5") or short ("Part 2"), the fun of listening is there all the time. Music can be great ... I love it!

  6. Vitko,

    Thank you for uploading this request. I am sorry I had not returned sooner to catch the link while it was still active. I appreciate this and ALL the great music you share!

  7. Thank you both for the two albums, I enjoied Gyor, but unfortunately the link for Kor expired.
    Gregorio can you please revive it again,
    TIA e grazie

  8. Vitko,
    i realised it was you to provide the link for Kor, not Gregorio. Do you mind to treat my request to Gregorio as it were directed to you)

  9. For everyone interested here is a link where is possible to find more stuff to download from Joelle.

  10. Here is the right linkëlle+Léandre

    1. "Kor" is coming soon, and thanks for the links.

    2. Actually I' m also seeking Joelle's performances with Pascal Contet and the two related albums. Maybe you have an idea for where to get them for downloading. Thanks for the "coming soon" Kor.

    3. I have two CDs with Joelle Leandre & Pascal Contet:

      Pascal Contet & Joelle Leandre (Grave - GRCD 1) - 1996
      Joelle Leandre & Pascal Contet / 3 (Ayler Records - AYLCD-137) - 2014

      if you do not have, I will gladly make links.


  11. Vitko, thank you for your offer. I already have one of the two. The one I still miss which I'll be pleased to get from you is:

    Pascal Contet & Joelle Leandre (Grave - GRCD 1) - 1996.

    In the meanwhile I found a good link for the left one (they togheter released 3 albums) : or
    So, nice to have met you Vitko.

    1. What do you like better; MP3 or FLAC. Already when I got a job, let it be your choice :)

  12. Hi Vitko,
    I usually, when possible, get both FLAC & MP3, of course one can convert a Flac to mp3 and get both meanwhile you cannot do vice versa. But sometimes you can find and download an Mp3 with better quality than the one you you get from the convertion.
    So it's up to you, "you must not look a gift horse in the mouth".
    Thank you in advance.

    1. Pascal Contet / Joëlle Léandre - Pascal Contet & Joëlle Léandre (CD-1996)
      CD Rip/FLAC


  13. Thank you very much!

  14. Thank you, is there a flac version of this cd, I wonder?

    1. It's an old post, I need to find time. I have a lot of requests.