Daunik Lazro: baritone sax; Joëlle Léandre: bass, voice
The pairing of an eternally inquiring sage and a bright-minded cultivated troublemaker, Lazro and Léandre have been knowing themselves for a long while but rarely their work was attested by a record (incidentally, we’re eagerly waiting for a CD reissue of the unacknowledged Paris Quartet, issued by Intakt in 1989 and comprising Irène Schweizer and Yves Robert besides this review’s protagonists). This concert in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques dated December 2011 finds the duo in great shape and spirit – and clearly inclined to perceive the proposals of silence, one should add – since the very first minutes, both artists sniffing the air in search of melodic fragments and dynamical fervency that, once found, get combined inside flashes of neatly organized instant creation. They channel their respect for (relative) quietness at the beginning of the second chapter (all are named “Hasparren”), letting the gradual flow of the sax and the semi-intoxicated figuration depicted by the double bass integrate in a commanding, if still restrained statement. Sometimes they cogitate unaccompanied, exploring the intimate relationship of solo exposition with ratiocinative sentience, or fighting the requisite compliance to any hypothetical rule with disciplined fury, occasionally with a pinch of irony (gotta love that fake resignation expressed by Léandre in her “aaahs”), ultimately flowing into a vast sea of canorous intelligibility. Heavyweights of the respective instruments who waste no time, whenever the occasion arises, to let a given acoustic constituent dominate the mix; the magic lies in the balance obtained, a music which may look deceptively fragile in some structural conjunction and almost overpowering in other combinations, but is totally unshakable in the most crucial acceptation. That is to say, the expression of internal needs and urges achieved through confident gestures of aural art, without a trace of grandiloquence for good measure.