11 years ago, cellist Helen Gillet moved to the Crescent City. Within a year of her arrival, she began collaborating with bassist James Singleton. Each drawing from a background in classical and jazz — with Gillet’s more rooted in classical and Singleton’s more rooted in jazz — their partnership gave rise to a unique improvisational atmosphere that allowed each to explore the depths of his and her respective instruments beyond which either could venture within a more conventional context or alone. They saw the sonic and stylistic similarities between the cello and bass not as a limitation but as means to free them from the concepts of melody, harmony, rhythm and song structure in a traditional sense. Instead, they focused on timbre, tonality and texture and relied on perception and musicality to shape their songs.
“We’re both composers, and we’re both loopers, which means we’re both one-person bands. We both deal with bass and percussion and lyrical qualities,” Singleton explains in this week’s episode of OffBeat’s Look-Ka Py Py Podcast. “When we get together, we kind of throw the ball back and forth.” At a private performance at the Marigny Opera House in March, the Gillet-Singleton Duo recorded their endeavor. Their recent release Ferdinand captures this concert. Tune in below to hear the pair explain its creative approach as well as to hear an impromptu live performance that took place in Gillet’s living room.
The Gillet-Singleton plays Siberia on January 1, 2014 at 10:00 p.m. and Chickie Wah Wah on January 4, 2014 at 10:00 p.m.