Quartet Noir Quartet Noir

I remember seeing the core of this quartet — saxophonist Urs Leimgruber, percussionist Fritz Hauser and bassist Joelle Leandre about six years ago, when they came through town on their No Try No Fail tour. What struck me the most is how regimented the music was that Hauser and Leimgruber were making. I’m not sure if this was because they’re a long-standing duo, or maybe it was just their demeanour. The real treasure of the concert for me was the warm playing of bassist Joelle Leandre, who acted as the glue for the trio. Whenever the tangent of Hauser/Leimgruber would steer far off in their own direction, Leandre would ultimately come in and pull them back into the real world. Listening to the Quartet Noir, I get a distinct feeling that pianist Marilyn Crispell has now taken Joelle Leandre’s spot and acts as the glue. Although this was her debut in this quartet formation, Marilyn steps right in and very gently asserts her rightful place amongst the other players. She strikes me as the strongest outsider, who is at the same time able to become an insider of this group. The music the quartet produces is never about full-blown energy. It’s not about wasting any pointless notes, nor is it about wasteful cluttering of the instruments. Chaos never once reigns supreme during this hour-long performance. Quartet Noir is about open communication: communication of improvising giants. Marilyn’s piano mutations are subtle, forthright and at the same time, very direct and to the point. Hauser’s pointillist approach to his drum set makes it a joy to listen to. Although I will tend to classify this music as sometimes bleak and rather dark, at the same time, I hope Quartet Noir will complete other recordings in the years to come. (Les Disques Victo)