Born: September 12, 1951 Primary Instrument: Bass
Joelle Leandre started playing recorder but quickly moved to piano and from the age of 9 to 14 studied both piano and double bass in her home town of Aix-en-Provence. Her double bass teacher, Pierre Delescluse, encouraged her to apply to the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris where she won first prize for double bass. In 1976 she received a scholarship to the Center for Creative and Performing Arts in Buffalo, a time that was to prove particularly influential due to encounters with Morton Feldman, and the music of Earl Brown, John Cage and Giacinto Scelsi. At the same time, she was able to experience the downtown New York music scene and continue her involvement in improvised music.
Joelle Leandre has continued to be involved with contemporary 'straight' music, not only as a member of contemporary music ensembles such as 2E2M, Itineraire and l'Ensemble Intercontemporain but particularly through the works of Cage and Scelsi, several of which have been recorded by her. Of Cage, she told Machart (1994):
He will always be my spiritual father. I had already read For the birds before meeting him. It is an important book. John made me listen to the world around me: 'Let sound be what it is'. He opened up a field of possibilities; he gave me confidence; he cooked for me (he was a very good cook), with his friend Cunningham; he was good. A friend. He was the first to smile when I played my piece Taxi in the hall at Columbia University--I can still remember it!
And, to the same interviewer on Scelsi:
Another meeting; as important as meeting Cage; he respected the freedom of my actions; there was almost a feminine intimacy between us. His music overwhelmed me; it is one of the truest, because it speaks to us of our conscience, of our human condition. When I listen to this music it affects me most deeply. There isn't a 'geography' to it; there are waves which we make vibrate. I love to play his several pieces for double bass because they provide me with a complete soundworld. This music is paradoxical because it is at once complex and simple. I have known Scelsi since 1978, in Rome, after a stay at Buffalo University where I discovered Okanagon, one of his most extraordinary pieces. We rapidly became friends. Ten years later, I was there, on the 8 August 1988, at his death. It was as if he just faded away.
After listening to jazz (Mingus, Cecil Taylor, Monk, Dolphy), I quickly got into the free, improvised realm where, for me, Derek Bailey is extremely important, also George Lewis and Irene Schweizer, and for sure, Anthony Braxton. Meeting Derek in New York several years ago had nearly the same impact on me as meeting Cage (Kanach, 1991). Leandre recorded with Bailey on Les douze sons and on the Company disc Trios, and has worked with a wide range of improvisors, for example: Maggie Nicols, Lindsay Cooper, Irene Schweizer, Fred Frith, Evan Parker, Eric Watson, Lol Coxhill, Peter Kowald, William Parker (described by Morris (1991)), and Barre Philips. She is a member of the European Women's Improvising Group (recorded on Intakt 002). She has recorded one of the weirdest records (even by free improvising standards) in Les domestiques with Jon Rose--a collection of domestic noises set to musical effect--and more recently has formed The Canvas Trio with long-term associates Rudiger Carl and Carlos Zingaro.
In 1994 Joelle Leandre was the DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) artist in residence in the city of Berlin; from November 1997 to June 1998 she took up a residence in Metz, north-east France teaching and giving master classes at academic institutions in the region and playing concerts with a range of improvisors that included Eric Watson, Lauren Newton, Carlos Zingaro and Paul Lovens. From September to December 2002 she was invited as visiting professor for improvisation and composition at Mills College, Oakland, California and this was repeated from September to December 2004 when she was visiting Darius Milhaud professor for composition and improvisation at Mills.
Francois Houle/Joelle Leandre/Raymond Strid, 9 Moment (Red Toucan, 2007)
Joelle Leandre & Kevin Norton, Winter in New York--2006 (Leo, 2007)
Joelle Leandre/Pascal Contet, Freeway (Clean Feed, 2007)
Joelle Leandre/Masahiko Satoh, Voyages (BAJ Records, 2006)
Joelle Leandre, At the Le Mans Jazz Festival (Leo, 2006)
Lauren Newton/Joelle Leandre, Face It! (Leo, 2006)
Quartet Noir, Lugano (Victo, 2005)
Steve Lacy/Joelle Leandre, One More Time (Leo, 2005)
Barre Phillips/Joolle Leandre/William Parker/Tetsu Saitoh, After You Gone (Victo, 2005)
Joelle Leandre, Concerto Grosso (Jazz Halo, 2005)
Ramon Lopez Flowers Trio, Flowers for Peace (Leo, 2004)
Joelle Leandre/India Cooke, Firedance (Red Toucan, 2004)
Ramon Lopez Flowers Trio, Flowers for Peace (Leo, 2004)
Joelle Leandre/Akosh S., Györ (Reqords, 2003)
Sylvie Courvoisier/Joelle Leandre/Susie Ibarra, Passagio (Intakt, 2002)
Joelle Leandre/Kumi Wakao, John Cage #4 (Mesostics, 2000)
Daunik Lazro/Joelle Leandre/Carlos Zingaro/Paul Lovens, Madly You (Potlatch, 2001)
Les Diaboliques, Live at the Rhinefalls (Intakt, 2000)
Joelle Leandre/William Parker, Contrabasses (Leo, 1998)
Derek Bailey/Joelle Leandre, No Waiting (Potlatch, 1998)
Lauren Newton/Joelle Leandre, 18 Colors (Leo, 1998)
Joelle Leandre, No Comment (Red Toucan, 1997)
Vinny Golia/Joelle Leandre/Ken Filiano, Haunting the Spirits Inside Them… (Music & Arts, 1995)
Joelle Leandre/Rüdiger Carl, Blue Goo Park (FMP, 1993)
Giacinto Scelci/Joelle Leandre, Okanagon (Hat Hut, 1993)
Joelle Leandre/Carlos Zingaro, Écritures (In Situ, 1990)
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