FMP/FREE MUSIC PRODUCTION - An Edition of Improvised Music 1989-2004


Fredi Bosshard


Herr Carl et Madame Léandre

The first musical encounter between Herrn Carl et Madame Léandre took place in Stuttgart in 1990 at the suggestion of the pianist Irène Schweizer. This was preceded by a concert which Rüdiger Carl organised for Joëlle Léandre in the Portikus in Frankfurt. The recordings we are now concerned with were made two years later in July during the "Workshop Freie Musik '92" in Berlin. However, the pieces were not recorded live - there was no room for duos, the workshop presented five piano solos and five trios. One of these was the trio now known as the Canvas Trio featuring Joëlle Léandre, Rüdiger Carl, and the Portugese violinist Carlos Zingaro. The trio concerns itself mainly with Joëlle Léandre's ideas/compositions, and succeeds in projecting them brilliantly onto the musical screen.

The accordionist, who occasionally plays the clarinet, and the double bass player who also sings, played the 21 miniatures ranging from Oui-non (A) to Oui-non (B) in the heat of an afternoon. These miniatures are mainly based on Rüdiger Carl's musical concepts. Even though Herr Carl's Oui sometimes sounds like the German "wie" and thus poses one of the central questions of free improvisation - which is answered in the course of the music - this unlikely pair points the way for "Blue Goo Park" and shows up the areas of friction which exist between the two of them. Rüdiger Carl's sung Oui starts off timidly, becomes dramatic, and ends in a final determined Oui. It is not surprising that Madame Léandre chooses a "non" full of nuances, as she is one of the selfdenying individualists in the business. This by no means that Herr Carl is a yes-man, and neither does it mean that Joëlle Léandre always says no - but she does know when she has to say it. To put it briefly, in this kind of music "yes" men and women are as rare as the hair on Lol Coxhill's head.

Rüdiger Carl started off as a tenor saxophonist, then played the clarinet, and occasionally the accordion more or less as a gag. It was no coincidence that the LP he made in 1978 with Hans Reichel was called "Buben" (the lads) - the very title brings back vivid memories of childhood music lessons. The record presents the saxophonist on the concertina, and the guitarist on the violin. By the way, Joëlle Léandre started off in Aix-en-Provence playing the plastic recorder. In time Rüdiger Carl has become an accordionist and clarinettist who also playes the saxophone - but he does not do so on "Blue Goo Park". Instead we have Irène Schweizer, Alexander von Schlippenbach and Sven Åke Johansson. All of them old pioneers of free jazz who work on different projects to extend the spectrum of sound, dare to go beyond set bounds, and continually join up with new musicians. Over the past few years compositions, concepts, structuring guidelines, and pre-given rhythmical formations in music have not only become more important for Rüdiger Carl. This process is illustrated very well in his work with the COWWS quintet (Jay Oliver, Phil Wachsmann, Stephan Wittwer and Irène Schweizer). In Joëlle Léandre he has found an ideal partner, has entered into a musical "folie a deux". She, who for years has devoted herself equally to composition (I'm thinking of solo performances of her own work and of works by John Cage, Giacinto Scelsi, Sylvano Bussotti and others) and free improvisation, (remember the years spent with Maggie Nicols, Irène Schweizer, Barre Phillips, Jon Rose and others) is a performer and singer as well as being a double bass player - she once referred to her voice as being her fifth "string. Her performances are always full of drama, whether she holds her double bass like a monstrous guitar, or whether whilst in Chicago she calls her dog and cats in Paris, as in "Ron Ronade", and so conveys the yearnings of a musician on tour to us. She uses her voice and the double bass to tell us stories, to allow us to take part in her private life, to give us insight. A wanderer between worlds with a rare intimate, physical, and at the same time kind of love-hate relationship with her instrument - she bows and plucks it, strokes and hits it, scrapes away on it and makes it screech - coaxes unheard of and unheard tones out of it.

This kind of music results from travelling around, not just physically but also mentally. "Blue Goo Park" is an excerpt from a road-movie, by which I don't just mean that it is of film length and is very varied. It is two persons' conscious "yes" for the here and now. Their ways of life come together, draw near to one another, and withdraw again - oui/oui, oui/non. We hear what has emerged from this encounter. Each one tip-toes around the other, primeval tones resound, Rüdiger Carl mumbles on the newly acqulred Free-Bass-Converter-Accordion, and Joëlle Léandre counters with the bowing on her double bass. They go on to devote their music to the sound of Moondog in Erkenschwick, or they let the Flemish giant travel the country, limping slightly, his accordion voice telling us of what he has seen with an almost folk-music-like ease. Where that comes from, that's where we want to go". This title in the programme implies nostalgia and yearning, touches on the familiar - musette, chansons without words - at an uncertain friendship, all that combined with a double bass, melodious and powerful, reminiscent of Charlie Haden's and conveying the same melancholia. On the one hand the trend to the traditional, to one's own history, and at the same time the longing to go where no-one has been before, avoiding trodden paths, leaving new footprints in the sand, continually surprising oneself and one's musical opposite number - and of course the listeners as well. "Blue Goo Park" is music which does not belong to any specific category, music for a film which has not yet been produced, but which is created inside our heads whilst listening. Oui!

Translation: Margaret Neuendorf

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