SASCHA LEY & LAURENT PAYFERT explore the subtle art of combining vocals and double bass. The Luxembourg-based vocalist, improviser, actress and poet and her congenial fellow musician from France blend free improvisation, written and instant compositions and familiar sonorities. Surreal and suggestive soundscapes, experiments, sound painting, the use of extended vocal and instrumental techniques as well as storytelling take the audience to an always surprising, inviting and spirited experience off the beaten track.
Saturday October 9 , a trip to Luxembourg.
At Subtile. A very beautiful place created by two esthetic women, halfway between an art gallery and a concept of home styling. Here, mainly vintage furniture mixes with the most contemporary, decorative objects and other works of art (paintings, photos, etc.). It is a peaceful place to hang out, meet friends and even attend events or concerts.
Tonight, the duo Sascha Ley (voc) and Laurent Payfert (cb) took over the space.
The atmosphere is ultra intimate. The two artists are surrounded by around twenty very comfortably seated people. Twenty privileged people (or who, at least, had the good idea to come and witness something unique).
I was blown away by Sascha Ley's performance during a solo concert in the little church of Rossignol (Gaume Jazz 2018). And I was no less won over by listening to his amazing duet album with Laurent Payfert (It’s Alright To Be Everywhere released by Jazz Haus Musik) which I mentioned here. After a brief presentation, the two musicians decide to improvise extensively and take advantage of the acoustics of the place. Why go “against”? Why impose their music on walls, angles, voids, spaces, resonances? You might as well make allies of them. Might as well make it the third element of the duo. Suddenly, we favor “almost all acoustics”.
Sascha sings, breathes, purrs, growls.
Laurent drums, rubs, makes the bow moan.
She invents a language.
He imagines the punctuation.
We are fascinated by the way they take us into their world. Performance, music, poetry, declamation, everything is linked. Everything is conducive to making music. The friction of the fingers on the fabric, the friction on the microphone, the point on the chest.
The vocalist delicately uses her loop machine which pierces her vocals even more. A chant that is sometimes plaintive, as if in pain. Only supported by the double bass which never lets go.
Laurent Payfert makes the bow dance to an infinite drone effect. He bounces it, picks up the voiceless notes, explores the instrument's range. Then he makes the strings vibrate strongly under his fingers. He also sparingly uses an echo pedal that further coats that big sound. As if pebbles rolled over loam.
Over the course of improvisations, we invent stories. Are we somewhere on the edge of a cliff on a stormy night? Faced with a wind that violently whips our faces? Do we hear the lamentations, the prayers, the cries of a mother warning her children? Or who is already crying for them? The voice is full of emotion. Rocky. Then velvety. Then acid.
Are these the children we hear then? Are they playing? Are they taunting us? Are they defying death? Are they still of this world? The voice and the double bass are one. Hug each other.
Blaze up. Surrender. Let go.
Short improvised pieces, full of variations and dramas follow one another.
With class, delicacy and sobriety.
"New Moon New Day New Prayer" develops on an ostinato (or rather on a haunting motif). Sascha plays with words, modulates each sentence. Stretches certain sentences, cuts syllables, kneads the verb. She brings the message to life. The same goes for this over-the-top version of "Les Feuilles Mortes/Autumn Leaves". This standard is not interpreted, it is embodied. Sascha puts her talents as a dramaturgue at the service of history. She puts her science of gesture and silences at the service of music. Her complicity with Laurent Payfert leads her to offer a double bass solo that goes beyond the solo, beyond the rules, beyond the performance. All that remains is sincerity.
Jazz? Certainly ! Because everything is in this spirit of freedom and skillfulness. The trip was definitely worth it for sure.
“An amazing concert. Experimentation. We are in an urban jungle. We are in a bar. We are on the roof of a building in London. We are on a street, and the music is with us. As long as there are voices like Sascha’s and instruments such as Laurent's, everything will be fine.”