The Squid's Ear Magazine

Leandre, Joelle / Pascal Contet: Area Sismica (We Insist! Records)

A live concert at Area Sismica, Forlì, in 2019 between two masterful French improvisers--double bassist Joëlle Léandre and accordionist Pascal Contet-- each pushing each other in both melodic and abstract improvisations with occasional vocal asides, as they engage their listeners through surprising twists and turns while exploring the farthest reaches of their instruments.

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product information:

UPC: 8056157050209

Label: We Insist! Records
Catalog ID: WEIN 012CD
Squidco Product Code: 29774

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2020
Country: Italy
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded live at Area Sismica, Forl“, April the 14th 2019 by Matteo Valla


Joelle Leandre-double bass

Pascal Contet-accordion

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"[...] On the other hand veteran associates Léandre and Contet begin their live concert with the longest and most intense improvisation. Featuring fluid accordion whooshes and florid arco vamps from the bassist, the two move from moderato to multphonics with contrasting pumps and burbles. At the same time among the airy echoes and expelled vibrations, thickening output from both players means that the narrative stays low pitched and abrasive. This variant of parry-and-thrust continues though the other six variations of "area sismica". Squealing and slithering the string and bellows textures encompass staccato and slack; near-inaudible and stentorian; and sudden jumps or level motion. Whether by accident or design "area sismica IV" and "area sismica V" end up being showcases of Contet or Léandre respectively. On the first the accordionist produces massive pipe organ-like glissandi throughout that are decorated with the occasional higher-pitched jiggle from his other hand plus bass string buzzes. The second emphasizes the woodiness of the bass with surface rubs alternating with spiccato movements and eventually spiraling stops that swiftly swell to an applauded ending.

Before that, "area sismica III" stretches the interface still further when Léandre challenges Contet's spreading out shrilling with verbal gurgles and growls that move between Edith Piaf-like excess and bel canto whispers. Finally reaching a crescendo her bedlam-styled murmurs join squeeze box cross tone and pitches and her own triple pumping. With the two final, post applause tracks more encores than extended codas, expected and unexpected timbres from each continue to complement each others' lines. Attaining a sequence of polytonal peeps in the calliope register from the squeeze box plus echoing low-pitched pumps from the double bass, the duo finishes with the same power with which it began.

It might be more prominent in other musical circumstances, but these unique sessions thoroughly confirm the accordion's place in advanced music."-Ken Waxman, JazzWord

Get additional information at Jazzword

Artist Biographies

"Joëlle Léandre is a famous French Bassist and is known for her collaborations with other musicians in the field of improvised music. Born in France on September 12th, 1951, she made her music debut in 1984 with Les Douze Sons. Her childhood was filled with music, and she was particularly interested in the piano during her early years. In her later years, she developed an interest in double bass, which won her many honors and scholarships during her education. Her double bass teacher Pierre Delescluse encouraged her to apply to the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris, where she was formally trained and noticed for her talent in the bass. Her outstanding musicianship took her to the United States and to the Centre for Creative and Performing Arts in Buffalo through a scholarship. In the United States, she expanded her network and met some of the best composers, such as John Cage, Giacinto Scelsi, and Morton Feldman. Among them, John Cage greatly influenced her music and compositions. Her time in the United States also enabled her to experience downtown New York music, which was another significant influence that led to her continued involvement in the field of improvised music.

Some of her notable collaborations in the field of contemporary music are with Pierre Boulez, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, and Giacinto Scelsi. Among them, John Cage and Giacinto Scelsi were the biggest influences in her life and music. In an interview, Joëlle Léandre said that John Cage was her spiritual father and changed her perception of sound and music. In another interview, she tells how Giacinto Scelsi allowed her to discover her own music and how his music transported her into a new world of improved consciousness. In the field of jazz music, she collaborated with Derek Bailey, William Parker, and Sebi Tramontana. Her music was owned and distributed by different music labels, including FMP, Leo, RougueArt, and Red Toucan. Some memorable songs and albums she released throughout the years include Instant Replay, Les Douze sons, Trios, Sweet Zee, Frerebet, Joelle et Tetsu, Philippe Fenelon, Voyages, etc. Some of the recent releases include Can You Hear Me and Unleashed. She has also performed live at the Tampere Jazz Festival twice, where popular international artists compete with each other.

Joëlle Léandre is also the member of European Women's Improvising Group (EWIG). The group evolved from the Feminist Improvising Group, and Joëlle Léandre joined the group in 1983. In the early 1900s, she co-founded Les Diaboliques with Irene Schweizer and Maggie Nicols, who were her long-time musician friends. Besides that, she also teaches several classes in prestigious universities about contemporary and improvised music. She has lived in France, Germany, and U.S during her lifetime, teaching at academic institutions in the religions and playing concerts. In 2002, she was invited to Canada as a visiting professor for music and composition."

-Joelle Leandre Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"After a private career in France, Pascal Contet continued his musical studies in Friborg (Switzerland), at the Musikhochschule in Hanover, at the Royal Conservatory of Copenhagen and at the Akademie der Künste in Graz. Laureate of the Cziffra (1983) and Menuhin (1986) foundations, he received the Bleustein-Blanchet Foundation Prize for Vocation in 1989. In 2012, first for the accordion, he was nominated for the Victoires de la musique classique (categories " Instrumental soloist of the year "and" recording of the year ").

Since 1993, he has been working on the constitution of a repertoire for accordion and today has to his credit around 300 creations from influential composers such as Claude Ballif, Franck Bedrossian, Luciano Berio, Edith Canat de Chizy, Bernard Cavanna, Jean-Pierre Drouet, Peter Eötvös, Ivan Fedele, Sofia Gubaïdulina, Philippe Hurel, Bruno Mantovani, Sébastien Rivas, Yann Robin among others.

Invited by prestigious national and international festivals, he plays with the Orchester Philharmonique de Radio France, the Orchester de la Suisse Romande, the Orchester National de l'Opéra de Paris, the Orchester de Chambre de Lausanne, Les Siècles sous the direction of Diégo Masson, Pierre Boulez, Esa- Pekka Salonen, Jean-Claude Casadesus, Susanna Mäkkli. François-Xavier Roth, Daniel Kawka in around 57 countries among others at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, Victoria Hall in Geneva, Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Cité de la Musique in Paris, Stadthalle in Wuppertal, Timisoara, Berkeley University, Shanghai Opera, Tokyo, Seoul Arts center, Yangon (Goethe Institut de Birmanie), Mexico Unam, Cervantino Festival, Tashkent, Almata, Bogota (Sala Arango), eleven countries in West and Central Africa, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Berlin, Hannover ...

A permanent member of the 2e2m and Ars Nova ensembles, he also performs with the Short-circuit ensembles and the Modern Ensemble and has as chamber music partners the clarinetist Paul Meyer, the cellist Ophélie Gaillard, the Diotima, Danel and again Debussy.

With Les Siècles, the Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain, the Orchestras of Picardy, Brittany, Strasbourg, Auvergne, Lorraine, Mulhouse, Bratislava, Pascal Contet performs the accordion concertos dedicated to him by Jean Françaix, Bernard Cavanna, Bruno Mantovani (2018)

Composer-performer, he collaborates with Marie-Christine Barrault, Anne Alvaro, Fabrice Melquiot, François Marthouret or Dieudonné Niangouna (Festival d'Avignon at the Cloître des Célestins). He is preparing for a play with the actress Séverine Ferrer.

For 25 years, he has been improvising in the company of double bass player Joëlle Léandre (Choc de Jazz Magazine for their record 3). He has been performing and recording with the famous mouth organ player Wu Wei since 2003, invited singer Camille to join him during his residency at the Europajazz festival, some duets and trios with Scanner (Robin Rimbaud), Joël Cadbury or even with the Kinshasa group: Jupiter Okwess international.

His predilection for improvisation continues with the accompaniment of silent films (cine-concerts) or in the field of digital visual arts with the artist Miguel Chevalier and his Origine du monde and in interactive digital visual creation Other worlds from the 2018-2019 season with Thierry Coduys. Very original and intense, his Utopian Wind recital takes place in immersion in the dark.

He has composed several performance music for Odile Duboc, Mié Coquempot, Fattoumi-Lamoureux, Loic Touzé, Lola Sémonin (La Madeleine Proust), Didier Galas, Dieudonné Niangouna (Les Inepties volantes), Le Vent des Anches, fictional music for France 2 and France 3, cinema for François Marthouret, for Delle Piane - Alain Margot (Télévision Suisse romande), Credits of the Belfort Film Festival, Canal + and parade for the top designer Franck Sorbier (Fall-winter 2016 parade)

Among his 50 discographic opuses, Utopian Wind released under his own label Plein Jeu and Lyric Fantasies, recorded with clarinetist Paul Meyer at Sony Classical, were enthusiastically relayed by the press."

-Pascal Contet Website (Translated by Google) (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Track Listing:

1. Area Sismica I 11:30

2. Area Sismica II 04:44

3. Area Sismica III 08:52

4. Area Sismica IV 04:39

5. Area Sismica V 07:18

6. Area Sismica VI 06:14

7. Area Sismica VII 06:17

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
European Improvisation, Composition and Experimental Forms
Duo Recordings
Piano & Keyboards
Stringed Instruments

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