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Artists Joëlle Léandre

French double bass player, improviser and composer Joëlle Léandre is one of the dominant figures of the new European music. Trained in orchestral as well as contemporary music, she has played with Itinéraire, 2e2m and Pierre Boulez’s Ensemble intercontemporain. Joëlle Léandre has also worked with Merce Cunningham and with John Cage, who has composed especially for her — as have Scelsi, Fénelon, Jolas and Clémenti. As well as working in contemporary music, Léandre has played with some of the great names in jazz and improvisation, such as Derek Beley, Anthony Braxton, Georges Lewis, Evan Parker, Irène Schweizer, Steve Lacy, Fred Frith and John Zorn. She has written extensively for dance and theatre, and has staged a number of multidisciplinary performances. Her reputation is international, and her work as a composer and a performer, both in solo recitals and as part of ensembles, has put her under the lights of the most prestigious stages of Europe, the Americas and Asia. Joëlle Léandre also has more than a hundred recordings to her credit.

Joëlle Léandre

Aix-en-Provence (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France), 1951

Residence: Paris (France)

  • Composer
  • Performer (double bass)

Associated Groups

Main Releases

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In the Press

  • Marc Chénard, La Scena Musicale, December 2, 2011
    French double bassist Joëlle Léandre is surely the best known to anyone interested in the area of freely improvised musics.
  • Annie Landreville, La Scena Musicale, no. 17:2, October 1, 2011
    Joëlle Léandre est une géante.
  • Ken Waxman, Musicworks, no. 105, December 1, 2009
    Improvisation is like life and death. It reveals that true life is now, not yesterday or tomorrow.
  • Guillaume Belhomme, Les Inrockuptibles, no. 710, July 7, 2009
    Joëlle Léandre continue de soigner sa dissemblance et de prouver avec chaque nouvel enregistrement qu’elle n’est pas seulement une instrumentiste d’exception, mais aussi une artiste qui inscrit dans la durée un processus unique de création.

L’Off Festival de Jazz de Montréal: Joëlle Léandre and the Ensemble Supermusique

Marc Chénard, La Scena Musicale, December 2, 2011

On the short list of name guest performers participating in this year’s festival, French double bassist Joëlle Léandre is surely the best known to anyone interested in the area of freely improvised musics. On the second evening, this musician was heard in two separate sets: starting off with a rather perfunctory half hour solo outing, Léandre was joined by the local Ambiances Magnétiques collective of free improvisers (7 in total comprised of its most usual suspects, Jean Derome, Lori Freedman, Joane Hétu, Jean René, Bernard Falaise, Danielle Palardy Roger, and a relative newcomer to the crowd, trombonist Scott Thompson. After the very well attended opening night double bill, turnout on this evening was rather thin, in spite of much advance billing and promotion. Because of this, there was a lack of atmosphere felt in the usually warm confines or the Lion d’Or, an old-theater space with much character to it. After more than three decades of professional activity and countless solo performances under her belt, Léandre’s musical world is well-established by now, and she offerred her usual fair, bowing for the most part (expected from any classically trained player) and indulging in her semi-onomatopeic vocalese while sawing away on her strings. She has recorded several solo albums over the years, and any of these are far more inspiring than this performance was. After the pause, she melted in the background with the ensemble, though she contributed one piece as an opener to the proceedings. This and the remaining numbers (one even played twice) were more like compositional frameworks, guiding the players according to a number of loosely defined parameters. Listeners familiar with this kind of ’open-ended’ music making know that misses are inevitable, even if they hope to get enough hits to make the evening worthwhile. Truthfully, the latter were in short supply on that night, leaving us with a little too many of the former.

French double bassist Joëlle Léandre is surely the best known to anyone interested in the area of freely improvised musics.

Les méandres de Léandre

Guillaume Belhomme, Les Inrockuptibles, no. 710, July 7, 2009
Joëlle Léandre continue de soigner sa dissemblance et de prouver avec chaque nouvel enregistrement qu’elle n’est pas seulement une instrumentiste d’exception, mais aussi une artiste qui inscrit dans la durée un processus unique de création.

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