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Signature: Live At The Egg Farm by Joelle Leandre

Signature: Live at the Egg Farm is a two CD set that documents two live sets of music improvised by French bassist Joelle Leandre and Japanese pianists Masahiko Satoh and Yuji Takahashi. Each set consists of series of musical vignettes ranging in length from just under two minutes to just over six minutes. What the listener confronts with these performances are avant garde musicians drawing upon all of their individual creative powers with a minimum of instrumental resources to express themselves in creating an intriguing patchwork of different sound textures that certainly lie outside of the usual boundaries of music making.

Disc one, recorded on December 3, 2000 pairs bassist Leandre and pianist Satoh. Their music making sounds somewhat like a friendly, albeit aggressive musical sparring match. The two musicians create seven different musical "signatures" (each piece is entitled "Signature 1," "Signature 2," "Signature 3," etc.). Unless there is a common thread so subtle that it passed by this listener, the "signatures" do not seem to be musically related to each other thematically, rhythmically, or texturally. The two musicians move about like two energy vortices that at times sound juxtaposed in opposing counterpoint and at other times intertwined with each other. While the spotlight occasionally shines on Satoh, his role sounds more attuned to providing a sonic canvas upon which Leandre paints the various sounds she evokes from her bass. Of most interest to this listener this set were "Signature 4" and "Signature 6."

Disc two puts Leandre together with pianist Takahashi, and was recorded December 4, 2000. In comparison to the first set of "signatures," this set of seven signatures (labeled "Signature A," "Signature B," "Signature C," etc.) has a somewhat smoother and gentler sound. Compared to the more aggressive "comping" of Satoh’s piano on Disc One, Takahashi’s piano seems to float with a more effervescent bell-like quality in framing Leandre’s relatively more dulcet bass tones. Again to this listener, there was no readily apparent musical connection between the "signatures" on this disc. All the pieces seem to be individual musical vignettes that stand independent of each other.

Signature is certainly a recording that may not be enjoyed to its fullest with merely passive listening. The music on these CDs are creations that draw upon many different influences by musicians with numerous years of experience in creative improvisational music making both inside and outside of the jazz realm. The typical constructs of music may not likely to be readily apparent to a casual listener. This listener found that after listening repeated times intently searching for some evidence as to the musicians’ inspiration/motivation did the simplistic beauty of the work become apparent. For the listener who enjoys creative improvised music that lies outside of the jazz mainstream this CD would be a most welcome addition to one’s collection of recordings.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Joelle Leandre
  • CD Title: Signature: Live At The Egg Farm
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: Red Toucan Records
  • Tracks: DISC ONE: Signature 1, Signature 2, Signature 3, Signature 4, Signature 5, Signature 6, Signature 7 DISC TWO: Signature A, Signature B, Signature C, Signature D, Signature E, Signature F, Signature G
  • Musicians: Joelle Leandre (bass), Masahiko Satoh (piano), Yuji Takahashi (piano)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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