Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

Joélle Leandre / Pascal Contet – Freeway (CF 080)
After their rare “Grave” from 1994, Leandre and Contet renew their alliance, treating us with twelve duets for double bass and accordion showing that the “genretrotters” definition of the press release is a correct one. Antagonism is not an option here, although the timbral difference – a sharp dichotomy between a fretless string instrument and a tempered keyboard device – contributes to the general cleverness. The pair seem to have played together day in, day out for decades, such is their absorption of the reciprocal styles and sensibilities. This determines a sort of “total mix” in their expressive range, Contet’s low drones often complementing Leandre’s murmuring arco in the most reflective improvisations. What should really be emphasized, though, is the unmitigated fusion of stylistic elements that both artists represent. Between the two of them, they have performed the works of influential composers such as Scelsi, Bussotti, Cage, Globokar; considering also the innumerable partners shared during their careers and the “popular” derivations surfacing in their voices, the record comes out as a literal demonstration of omnivorousness. Self-determination, technical command and undifferentiated circulation of impromptu information are among the many constituents that manage to put us in full syntony with the duo’s glorious abilities, features that in “Freeway” are never sidetracked. There is nothing here that could elicit something different from admiration and positive enjoyment of the music; the album possesses so many different facets that, after reiterated listenings, still leaves us both puzzled and willing to play it again.

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