Stormy Whispers – first ever meeting of three great improvised ladies – Joëlle Léandre, Myra Melford and Lauren Newton!

The 13th International Festival of Improvised Music “Ad Libitum” took place in Warsaw in October 2018 at the Ujazdowski Castle Center for Contemporary Art. The motto of that edition was “Women Alarm!” One of the main attractions was a new trio of Joëlle Léandre, Myra Melford, and Lauren Newton. This new trio formed in a sense a counterpoint to another legendary formation of Joëlle, Les Diaboliques, with Irène Schweizer and Maggie Nicols. Indeed, I could adapt my own ancient review of the music of Les Diaboliques to describe the trio of Léandre/Melford/Newton: “The humour and joy, synergy, creativity and imagination – this is what characterizes the music of them. The language of Lauren sounds like Hebrew or Latino, or sometimes even like Hungarian or a Scandinavian language.” Yet, the music is completely different. Myra’s piano playing is in deep relation to American free piano music tradition from Cecil Taylor, Muhal Richard Adams to Matthew Shipp and Marilyn Crispell. As the title suggests, Lauren uses plenty of special vocal effects: whispers, squeaks, loud breaths, opera techniques, even throat singing, à la Sainkho Namtchylak. However, she uses also plain English sometimes. Joëlle… is simply magnificent in any respect, showing the whole palette of her bass and vocal abilities.