Les Diaboliques

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The trio of vocalist Maggie Nichols, pianist Iréne Schweizer, and bassist Joëlle Léandre is well versed in the interaction of spontaneous composition. That said, they are virtually incapable, as individuals or as a trio of spitting out the sort of ill-defined twaddle that many groups of individuals do when they get together impromptu like this. This set is comprised of 16 shorter pieces, none of them more than five-and-a-half minutes in length. The reason is simple: the pointed, direct statement appearing as vision, idea, and execution almost simultaneously as performed by a trio. Nichols is the most astonishing in this set. Léandre and Schwiezer have worked in this context before, but her irreducibly brilliant lyrical spontaneity and vocal dynamics add much dimension to the trio's proceedings, it sounds like these pieces were written for her to sing. Most devastating is "Whose Adam?," with its reliance on sharp modal figures and intricate staggering of rhythm and lyric interposition. Nichols offers a tale of origin that goes far awry of the traditional norms, and her collaborators play accents for the entire piece pushing the dynamic range into the red. Schweizer here plays a very important role in allowing pieces to direct themselves and offering them a wide timbral palette for rhythm (Léandre ) and Nichols (lyric and harmonic effusion) top direct the flow. This is more than impressive; this is an event.

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