Joëlle Léandre

Joëlle Léandre's own site at is also available

Born 12 September 1951, Aix-en-Provence; double bass, voice.

Joëlle Léandre started playing recorder but quickly moved to piano and from the age of 9 to 14 studied both piano and double bass in her home town of Aix-en-Provence. Her double bass teacher, Pierre Delescluse, encouraged her to apply to the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris where she won first prize for double bass. In 1976 she received a scholarship to the Center for Creative and Performing Arts in Buffalo, a time that was to prove particularly influential due to encounters with Morton Feldman, and the music of Earl Brown, John Cage and Giacinto Scelsi. At the same time, she was able to experience the downtown New York music scene and continue her involvement in improvised music.

Joëlle Léandre has continued to be involved with contemporary 'straight' music, not only as a member of contemporary music ensembles such as 2E2M, Itinéraire and l'Ensemble Intercontemporain but particularly through the works of Cage and Scelsi, several of which have been recorded by her. Of Cage, she told Machart (1994):

"He will always be my spiritual father. I had already read For the birds before meeting him. It is an important book. John made me listen to the world around me: 'Let sound be what it is'. He opened up a field of possibilities; he gave me confidence; he cooked for me (he was a very good cook), with his friend Cunningham; he was good. A friend. He was the first to smile when I played my piece Taxi in the hall at Columbia University - I can still remember it!"

And, to the same interviewer on Scelsi:

"Another meeting; as important as meeting Cage; he respected the freedom of my actions; there was almost a feminine intimacy between us. His music overwhelmed me; it is one of the truest, because it speaks to us of our conscience, of our human condition. When I listen to this music it affects me most deeply. There isn't a 'geography' to it; there are waves which we make vibrate. I love to play his several pieces for double bass because they provide me with a complete soundworld. This music is paradoxical because it is at once complex and simple. I have known Scelsi since 1978, in Rome, after a stay at Buffalo University where I discovered Okanagon, one of his most extraordinary pieces. We rapidly became friends. Ten years later, I was there, on the 8 August 1988, at his death. It was as if he just faded away."

After listening to jazz (Mingus, Cecil Taylor, Monk, Dolphy), "I quickly got into the free, improvised realm where, for me, Derek Bailey is extremely important, also George Lewis and Irène Schweizer, and for sure, Anthony Braxton. Meeting Derek in New York several years ago had nearly the same impact on me as meeting Cage" (Kanach, 1991). Léandre recorded with Bailey on Les douze sons and on the Company disc Trios, and has worked with a wide range of improvisors, for example: Maggie Nicols, Lindsay Cooper, Irène Schweizer, Fred Frith, Evan Parker, Eric Watson, Lol Coxhill, Peter Kowald, William Parker (described by Morris (1991)), and Barre Philips. She is a member of the European Women's Improvising Group (recorded on Intakt 002). She has recorded one of the weirdest records (even by free improvising standards) in Les domestiques with Jon Rose - a collection of domestic noises set to musical effect - and more recently has formed The Canvas Trio with long-term associates Rüdiger Carl and Carlos Zingaro.

In 1994 Joëlle Léandre was the DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) artist in residence in the city of Berlin; from November 1997 to June 1998 she took up a residence in Metz, north-east France teaching and giving master classes at academic institutions in the region and playing concerts with a range of improvisors that included Eric Watson, Lauren Newton, Carlos Zingaro and Paul Lovens. From September to December 2002 she was invited as visiting professor for improvisation and composition at Mills College, Oakland, California and this was repeated from September to December 2004 when she was visiting Darius Milhaud professor for composition and improvisation at Mills.

Further information

Writings/poetry/paintings by Joëlle Léandre
Caraque, (1993). Marseilles, CIPM/Spectres Familiers. ISBN 2-909097-12-9.
Le chien/Taxi, (1993), L'evidence, no. 2, (Automne), pp. 18-23.

Books and articles about Joëlle Léandre
Basting, Barbara (1995), Joëlle Léandre: vagabundin auf vier saiten. Du, no. 2, (Februar), pp. 36-39. Published in Switzerland; in German.
Kanach, Sharon (1991), Joëlle Léandre: the bow is mightier than the pen. EAR magazine, (February), pp. 34-35, 37-39.
Krause, Anna-Bianca (1996), Es gibt nichts Ernsteres als Humor. Neue zeitschrift für musik, no. 1, (Januar/ Februar), pp. 24-28. Interview plus musical excerpt from 'Taxi'. In German.
Les aleas selon Léandre (The hazards according to Léandre). Jazz magazine, no. 327, (Mars), pp. 24-25, 50. In French.
Machart, Renaud (1994), Joëlle Léandre: les mots pour le dire. Monde de la Musique, (Janvier), pp. 44-45. In French.
Marley, Brian (2002), Interview with Joëlle Léandre. Full text available on this site.
Martinelli, Francesco (2002). Joëlle Léandre discography, Bandecchi & Vivaldi. Paperback, 160 pages. ISBN 88-8341-015-7. For more details, see the Bibliography.
Médioni, Franck (2008). Joëlle Léandre: à voix basse, Èditions M.F. Paperback, 144 pages. ISBN 978-2-9157-9428-1.
Médioni, Franck (2011). Solo: Joëlle Léandre conversations with Franck Médioni, Kadima Collective Triptych #3. English version of previous item.
Morris, Valarie (1991), Joëlle Léandre: to be in love about life. Strings, (January/February), pp. 14-18. Includes a transcription of Comme un vent de mémoire one movement from Léandre's composition, Octobre.
Praetorius, Barbara (1995), Joëlle Léandre, Jazzthetik, no. 2, (Februar), pp. 24-29. Interview with three great photographs by Ilka Schuster. In German.
Rivest, Johanne (1994), Une tension et une dé-tension. Musicworks, no. 58, pp. 22-30. Interview plus excerpt from her composition 'Octobre'. Included CD with the piece Sound on stage part 1
Warburton, Dan (2002). Invisible jukebox. The Wire, no. 216, (February), pp. 20-22. Joëlle Léandre is asked to identify recordings of Scelsi, Cage, Boulez, and by Radu Malfatti, George Lewis and others.


1981, Contrabassiste, QCA Redmark/Liben Records RML LP8204.
1982 Instant replay, nato 25/32 (LP). Lol Coxhill.
1982 Instant replay, nato 25-32 (CD). Lol Coxhill.
1982, Live at the Bastille, Sync Pulse 1789. With Maggie Nicols and Lindsay Cooper.
1982, 28 Rue Dunois juillet 1982, Fou Records FR - CD 06. Derek Bailey/Joëlle Léandre/George Lewis/Evan Parker.
1983, Couscous, nato 157. With Lol Coxhill.
1983, Les douze sons, nato 82 LP and CD.
1983, Trios, Incus 51. Company.
1984, Live at Taktlos, Intakt CD 001/Intakt LP 001. On one trio track with Irèe Schweizer/Paul Lovens.
1984, Sweet Zee, hat Art 2010. Daunik Lazro.
1984, Pour un demi-poulet, nato 112131. One track on Alfred Hitchcock tribute album.
1985/1987, Paris Quartet, Intakt 012.
1985, Sincerely, Plainisphare PL 1267-92/1994. Solo.
1986, Canaille, Intakt 002.
1986, Cordial gratin FMP 1160. With Irène Schweizer.
1986, Frerebet soeurboise FMP 1260. In Duos Europa with Peter Kowald.
1986, Soeurbet frereboise FMP CD 21. Another duo with Peter Kowald.
1986/1988, The storming of the winter palace, Intakt CD003.
1987, Contrabasse et voix ADDA 581043. Solo compositions by Cage, Scelsi, Bussotti etc.
1987, Les domestiques Konnex ST 5019. Duo with Jon Rose.
1987, Violin music for restaurants RER BJRCD. Jon Rose.
1988, Ensemble (Victoriaville) 1988 Victo 07. Anthony Braxton group.
1988, En chair et en os, DCC 008. With the poetry of Julien Blaine.
1990, Écritures, in situ 038. With Carlos Zingaro.
1990, Trend, Splasc(h) CD H 309.2 With Mario Schiano/Evan Parker/Alex Von Schlippenbach and Paul Lytton.
1990, Urban bass, ED 13041. Solo.
1991, Palimpseste, Hat art 6103. Duo with Eric Watson.
1991, Canaille 91.
1992, haunting the spirits inside them... Music and Arts 893.
1992, Okanagon, Hat art 6124. Compositions by Scelsi.
1992, L'Histoire de Mme. Tasco, Hat art 6122. Canvas trio.
1992, Urgent meeting 221, GRRR 2020. One track with Un Drame Musical Instantané.
1992, Letter 3, Leo CD LR190. Duo with Sainkho Namchylak.
1993, Les diaboliques, Intakt CD 033.
1993, Blue Goo Park, FMP CD 52. Duo with Carl.
1993, Nuage en voyage, Z.o.o 12-1. One duo with Annick Nozati on concert CD Wie es ihr gefällt.
1993, Tracks, Le Parc Music. With Mario Schiano and Peter Kowald.
1994, Sound on stage part 1, Musicworks 58. With Carlos Zingaro.
1994, Sincerely, Planisphare PL 1267-92/1994. Solo.
1994, Joëlle Léandre Pascal Contet, Grave GRCD 1.
1994, Blue memories, Splasc(h) CD H 449.2 With Mario Schiano and Renato Geremia.
1994, ://, ReR JR4. Jon Rose.
1994, Splitting image, Intakt CD 048. Les diaboliques.
1994/5, No comment, Red Toucan 9313-2. Solo.
1995, John Cage, Auvidis Montaigne MO 782076.
1995, Not missing drums project, Leo Lab CD 036. With Urban voices.
1996, Live @ Banlieues Bleues, Red Toucan 9306-2. With Georg Graewe and François Houle.
1996, 18 colors, Leo LR CD245. Duo with Lauren Newton.
1996, Duos 3-13, For 4 Ears CD1034. Duos with Fredy Studer.
1996, Moments Music and Arts CD-999. Canvas Trio.
1996, No try no fail, hatOLOGY 509. Trio with Urs Leimgruber and Fritz Hauser.
1998, Joëlle et Tetsu, Omba-003CD. Duo with Tetsu Saitoh.
1997, Philippe Fénelon, MFA 216015. Five pieces on new music CD.
1997, Incandescences, Tonesetters/Jazz Halo TS007. Duo with Giorgio Occhipinti.
1997, No waiting, Potlatch P198. Duo with Derek Bailey.
1997, E'vero, Leo LR CD275. Duo with Sebi Tramontana.
1997, Live at the Rhinefalls, Intakt CD 059. Les diaboliques.
1997, La perfum des femmes, OHM/AVTR 011. Chantal Dumas.
1998, Contrabasses, Leo LR CD261. Duo with William Parker.
1998, Short takes, Egg Farm EF-005. Duo with Haruna Miyake.
1998, Improvisation & performance, Mesostics MESCD0001. Solos; trios; plus workshop recordings.
1998, Ryoanji: John Cage concert in Hiroshima, Mesostics MESCD0005. With Kumi Wakao.
1998, Solo bass, Mesostics MESCD0007.
1998, Sapporo duets, Tonesetters/Jazz Halo TS013. Duo with Ryoji Hojito.
1998, Quartet Noir, Victo cd067. With Urs Leimgruber, Marilyn Crispell and Fritz Hauser.
1998/9, Marmara Sea, Intakt CD 061. Saadet Türköz.
1999, Joëlle Léandre Project, Leo LR CD287.
1999, Tricotage, Ambiances Magnétiques AM 078. Duo with Danielle P. Roger.
1999, Organic - mineral, in situ 235. With Kazue Sawaï.
1994-2000, Amalgam(e): 10 ans de Red Toucan, Red Toucan 9325. Red Toucan compilation with 5 JL tracks taken from discs included in the discography above.
2000, Dire du dire, Rectangle REC ELLE 2. In conversation.
2000, Quelue part, Lithium. Mendelson.
2000, c'estça, Red Toucan 9315. With Hasse Poulsen and François Houle.
2000, John Cage #4, Mesostics MESCD0013. With Kumi Wakao.
2000, Joëlle Léandre & Yu Wakao, Mesostics MESCD0015.
2000, Signature: live at the Egg Farm, Red Toucan 9321. Two CDs of duos with Masahiko Satoh and Yuji Takahashi.
2000, Festival Beyond Innocence: 4 1999-2000, Innocent Records FBI 105. Two tracks (duo and trio) on compilation CD.
2000, Concerten, Muziekinstrumentenmuseum MIM0010. Solo track on compilation CD.
2000, La 5ème feuille, DCC 014. The poetry of Julien Blaine.
2001, Out of sound, Leo LR CD337. Newton/Léandre/Leimgruber.
2001, Timbreplus, ARBE 11. Timbre with Hauser, Léandre, Leimgruber.
2001, Madly you, Potlatch P102. Lazro/Léandre/Zingaro/Lovens.
2001, 1/2, No label CDR. Léandre/Zingaro/Tramontana.
2001, The chicken check in complex, Leo LR CD340. Zingaro/Léandre/Tramontana.
2001, For flowers, Leo LR CD396. Joëlle Léandre/Mat Maneri/Joel Ryan/Christophe Marguet.
2001, Passaggio, Intakt CD 075. Sylvie Courvoisier/Joëlle Léandre/Susie Ibarra.
2002, Duets 2 Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Leo LR CD356. A duet with Ramon Lopez.
2002, Ocean of earth, Barking Hoop BKH-007. Kevin Norton/Joëlle Léandre/Tomas Ulrich.
2002, Tempted to smile, Spool SPL 120/LINE 20. Fred Frith/Joëlle Léandre/Jonathan Segel.
2002, No day rising, Spool SPL 121/LINE 21. Brett Larner/Joëlle Léandre/Kazuhisa Uchihashi.
2002, The space_between, 482 Music 482-1017. Philip Gelb/Pauline Oliveras/Dana Reason/Joëlle Léandre.
2002, Evident, 482 Music 482-104. Duo with Mark Nauseef.
2002, One more time, Leo LR CD422. Steve Lacy/Joëlle Léandre.
2002, That overt desire of object, . Relative Pitch Records RPR-1002. Joëlle Léandre/Phillip Greenlief.
2003, After you gone, Victo cd091. Barre Phillips/Joëlle Léandre/William Parker/Tetsu Saitoh.
2003, Györ, Reqords REQ001. Duo with Akosh S.
2003, Sur une balançoire, Ambiances Magnétiques AM 126. Duo with Gianni Lenoci.
2003/2004, Irène Schweizer: a film by Gitta Gsell, Intakt DVD 121. DVD featuring an interview with JL and some performance footage of Les Diaboliques.
2004, Firedance, Red Toucan 9327. Joëlle Léandre/India Cooke.
2004, Flowers of peace, Leo LR CD438. Ramon Lopez Flowers Trio.
2004, Lugano, Victo cd096. Quartet Noir.
2004, Cruxes, Balance Point Acoustics bpa010. Aurora Josephson/Joëlle Léandre/Damon Smith/Martin Blume.
2006, That overt desire of object, . Relative Pitch Records RPR-1002. Joëlle Léandre/Phillip Greenlief.
2005, Concerto Grosso, Tonesetters/Jazz Halo TS021/022. Solo.
2005, Face it!, Leo LR CD450. Duo with Lauren Newton.
2005, At the Le Mans Jazz Festival, Leo LR CD458/459.
2005, Voyages, BJSP 0001. Duo with Masahiko Satoh.
2005, Open Waves concert, Forward.DEMO 001. Duo with Carlos Bechegas.
2005, Freeway, Clean Feed CF080CD. Duo with Pascal Contet.
2005, 25th NWM, Ninth World Music NWM0 25 CD. One track on compilation CD.
2005/2009, Solo, Kadima Collective Triptych#3. Book with DVD and CD solo performances.
2006, Jubilee concert, Intakt DVD 141. Les diaboliques. DVD.
2006, Winter in New York - 2006, Leo LR CD499. Duo with Kevin Norton.
2006, 9 moments, Red Toucan 9333. Houle/Léandre/Strid.
2006, The Stone Quartet, DMG ARC 0721. Joëlle Léandre/Marilyn Crispell/Roy Campbell/Mat Maneri.
2006, A l'improviste, Kadima Collective Recordings KCR 16. Joëlle Léandre/Barre Phillips.
2007, Psychomagic combination, Setola di Maiale SM1180. Joëlle Léandre/Gianni Lenoci/Vittorino Curci/Marcello Magliocchi.
2007, Duo (Heidelberg Loppem) 2007, Leo LR CD548/549. Duo with Anthony Braxton.
2007, Live in Israel, Kadima Collective Recordings KCR 17. Solo and group improvisations.
2008, Trace, Red Toucan 9337. Léandre/Vidal/Boni.
2008, Out of nowhere, Ambiances Magnétiques AM 184. Duo with Quentin Sirjacq.
2008, BasseContinue, HORS ŒL EDITIONS. DVD with interviews and concert footage.
2008, KOR, Leo LR CD522. Duo with Akosh S.
2008, Transatlantic visions, Rogueart ROG-0020. Duo with George Lewis.
2008, Journey, NoBusiness Records NBCD18/NBLP25. Duo with India Cooke.
2009, Live at Dunois, Leo LR CD535. Duo with William Parker.
2009, Live at the Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon, Leo LR CD594/595. Tentet + Trio.
2009, Last seen headed, Ayler Records AYLCD-096. Joëlle Léandre/François Houle/Raymond Strid.
2009, Before after, Rogueart ROG-0032. Trio with Nicole Mitchell and Dylan Van Der Schyff.
2009, MMM Quartet Live at the Metz Arsenal, Leo LR CD631. Léandre/Frith/Curran/Leimgruber.
2010, Live at Magyarkanizsa, Budapest Music Center Records BMC CD 183. Duo with György Szabados.
2010, Live at Vision Festival, Ayler Records AYLCD-124. Stone Quartet.
2010, 13 miniatures for Albert Ayler, Rogueart ROG-0040. Various musicians.
2010, Conversations: live in Ljubijana, Not Two MW 892. Duo with Lauren Newton.
2011, Live at Banlieue Bleue, NoBusiness Records NBCD51. Sudo Quartet.
2011, The ethnic project, Kadima Collective Recordings KCR 34. Vinny Golia.
2011, Wols circus, Galerie Hus HUS 112. Solo.
2011, Live in Molde, +3db Records 021. SPUNK/Joëlle Léandre
2011, Evidence, . Relative Pitch Records RPR1010. Joëlle Léandre/Jérôme Bourdellon.
2011, Hasparren, NoBusiness Records NBCD62. Duo with Daunik Lazro.
2012, Trans, Intervalle Tri:ton IT30121901. Duo with Serge Teyssot-Gay.
2012, The bill has been paid, Dark Tree DT03. Duo with Steve Dalachinsky.
2012, 3, Ayler Records AYLCD-137. Duo with Pascal Contet.
2012, Flowing stream, Leo LR CD701. Thomas Buckner/Joëlle Léandre/Nicole Mitchell.
2013, Tout va monter, nato 4757. Joëlle Léandre/Benoît Delbecq/Carnage The Executioner.
2013, Can you smile?, Ayler Records AYLCD-136. Théo Ceccaldi Trio + Joëlle Léandre.
2013, Sisters where, Rogueart ROG-0055. Duo with Nicole Mitchell.
2013, Live at Kesselhaus Berlin, Jazzdor Series 01. Duo with Vincent Courtois.
2013, (live at) Gråmølna, Confront Collectors Series CCS31. Duo with Micharel Duch.
2013, Sonic communion, The Bridge Sessions TBS01. Jean-Luc Cappozzo/Douglas R. Ewart/Joëlle Léandre/Bernard SantacruZ/Michael Zerang.
2013, 14 rue Paul Fort, Paris, Leo LR CD731. Léandre/Delbecq/Houle.
2014, Oakland/Lisboa, Rogueart ROG-0063. MMM Quartet.
2014?, Trans 2, Intervalle Tri:ton IT99886358. Duo with Serge Teyssot-Gay.
2015, Can you hear me?, Ayler Records AYLCD-146. Joëlle Léandre 10.
2015, Elastic, Cipsela Records CIP 006. Joëlle Léandre/Théo Ceccaldi.
2005-2015, A woman's work..., Nottwo Records MW950-2. Joëlle Léandre 8CD set.
2016, Léandre - Minton, Fou Records FR-CD24. Joëlle Léandre/Phil Minton.

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