Joelle Leandre | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

To Joelle Leandre, the double bass is a supple little fiddle, the rigors of "new music" provide an open-ended playground, and the lines between modern forms of improvisation turn out to be dotted (if they exist at all). On the one hand, Leandre belongs to the Ensemble Intercontemporain, founded by her countryman Pierre Boulez, and has inspired works by a slew of contemporary composers, including John Cage; on the other, she has worked with an impressive roster of those who ply the new-music waters from jazz shores--including Anthony Braxton, Butch Morris, Britishers saxist Evan Parker and drummer Tony Oxley, cellist Tom Cora, and the grande dame of Europe's avant-garde, Irene Schweizer. Leandre displays an unquestionable and self-assured virtuosity: the strength of her playing lies not in its excesses but in its restraint. (And thus, in the best Boulezian tradition, she focuses attention on content rather than stylistic excess.) Virtually unknown in the U.S., this remarkable musician will offer a solo recital that features her versatile mezzo-soprano voice in tandem with--and sometimes in striking opposition to--the dark dryness she elicits from the bass. Tonight, 9 PM, Southend Musicworks, 1313 S. Wabash; 939-2848.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Yvan Teule.

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