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  • Norm Adams

Day 2


I just read the brochure for these Stages: describing Joelle Leandre, it says: “Choosing Joelle Leandre is to admit it might be a bit tough, the lady does not flatter her audience but she knows exactly what she is talking about”

The ferocity of her teaching continues, and we were actually lost one of our stagiares this overnight! In general everyone takes Joelle’s (often repeated, and repeated) evaluations well. Some try to challenge or question her pronouncements but she never backs down. Some try to defend those being pushed, but she never stops pushing. In the end, we all laugh and take it well. I think we all understand that almost everything is a matter of opinion when it comes to improvisation! And indeed her passion for this work is what keep us going, and inspires us. When she says a piece was dull, it always was. When she says it’s brilliant, it really is!

I started off playing this morning, and had the overwhelming feeling of a cleansing as I improvised with 3 others at 9:30 or so. It was marvelous to play with such listeners!

Today Joelle talked about how the first impetus of a piece signals a character. And how important that judgment, or lack of judgment must be! (I’m learning a lot about contradictions too: think, don’t think; play, don’t play; repeat, don’t repeat) I guess that’s what happens when freedom rules the day.

We had a large group lunch at a weird Chinese restaurant, which went pretty late. I had a good conversation with young Gaspard our brilliant 13 year old, (about bikes of course!) He was very helpful with my verb tenses, and I actually feel less exhausted today than yesterday, and maybe a bit more confident in the language department.

There is now talk of a Stage concert. I’ll be interested to see how that goes!


Tonight was the first concert of the Festival, and one I was looking forward to. Especially because Dutch cellist, Ernst Reijseger (playing with some other people, but really….) is here. His recordings were my first examples of improvised cello playing. His virtuosity and wild approach are without compare I think, and I couldn’t wait to hear him for the first time live! I wasn’t disappointed. He plays so cleanly, every lightening fast note is solid and in tune, and it’s funky as hell! Tonight he was playing with a Dutch pianist Harmen Fraanje and a Senegalese singer Mola Sylla, who made his entrance from one of the boxes in the first balcony. (May I take a moment to recognize the beautiful hall? It was perhaps the same interior footprint as the Dunn Theatre in Halifax, but 3 balconies high, and gorgeous!). The music was "worldy" in nature, but with elements of new jazz and free music. Reijseger played his 5-string cello like a guitar at times, ripping funky fills into the simple changes. And he could drum on it too, fantastic rhythms and sounds with total abandon. In the end it was a fun experience, fun for everyone, not just jazz or impro fans. Perhaps it wasn't the most profound music, but was fun! The second set was Bubbles and Bangs, a Swiss trio of voice, tuba and drums playing arrangements of pop tunes from Beatles’ Helter Skelter to Eminem! It was up and down for me, the theatre was super hot and it was getting late…the show started at 8 and ended at 11:30! Oy

PS. I awoke at 4am to the overwhelming aroma of baking bread! I love France!

Aug 23, 2011 at 20:10

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