It's simply not possible to attend all the wonderful musical performances in this great big world. Music literally vanishes into air, so it's a treat when a recording of a superb concert emerges, especially one as fresh and energetic as Journey. Recorded December 2008 during the Third Annual Conference of the International Society for Improvised Music, which took place at the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver, the release captures the formidable talents of Joelle Leandre on bass and India Cooke on violin. The two women had played together before, so they had the luxury of familiarity, not to mention an excellent venue and an audience ready to listen.
The energy and vitality of a live performance sizzles throughout the album, with the occasional cough adding a note of authenticity. The performance runs just a shade over 43 minutes and is composed of six pieces, named "Journey I", "Journey II," and so on. From the very first notes, Leandre and Cooke embark on an impassioned conversation that explores a wide range of sonic and emotional territory. The musicians have a marvelous telepathy, and it's a joy to witness their synthesis and on-the-spot responsiveness. They dive courageously into soul and sound, sometimes splashing on colors, others times applying them carefully, precisely. Occasionally Leandre lets loose with vocalizations, wild primal flights that sear the subconscious and push the music deeper.
The Leandre-Cooke combination is so enticing due partly to the magic spaciousness of stringed instruments, which convey urgency and emotion so well (recall that Bernard Herrmann's famous score to Psycho was nothing but strings). Leandre and Cooke express some of the sweetness that strings are famous for, and make fair use of their instruments as percussion as well, but overall this recording is one of verve and power. There's a taut urgency here that's palpable even in the quieter moments, and this energy and intensity is what makes the performance so memorable.
In a 2002 interview, Leandre declared "Art is language, energy, module, vibration!" To this we say: Yes! And no better way to experience this kind of dynamic art than through this wonderful release.
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