Taking advantage of the unique textures available with unusual instrumentation, members of the Judson Trio stretch the connective limits during this two-CD set of one live concert and a studio date. Following a five-year partnership, Paris-based bassist Joëlle Léandre, New York violist Matt Maneri and drummer/percussionist Gerald Cleaver can perfect searing or subdued improvisations with sonic understanding.
Except for the drummer’s crunching kit-exercising on the final selection, tracks pulsate fluidly since none of the players stick to standard forms. Besides refracting creaky spiccato scratches, Maneri’s pizzicato strums create mid-range continuum. Léandre’s command of connective pressure is a given, but she also expresses pointillist expositions with the speed and malleability of a small fiddle. Colourist Cleaver’s accompaniment is expressed with cymbal clanks, gong-like resonation, pointed ruffs or drum top spanks.
Frequently moving in three-layered narratives or broken-octave elaboration, the trio’s musical cooperation is expressed most succinctly on the live Wild Lightness #4. After the bassist’s singular string plucks state the theme, Maneri’s string scordatura counters with widened strokes. Directly transformed into squeaky below-the-bridge scratches, his unique tones intersect with Léandre’s sul tasto narrative elaborations and are decorated with Cleaver’s bell-tree-shaking tinctures.
Light and Dance is dedicated to exposing all the obvious, hidden and expanded textures available from the interactions of the three players’ instruments during all 18 tracks. If equivalent pliable concepts were expressed by governments, irritants like trade wars and Brexit could likely be avoided.