Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ab Baars - Slate Blue (Wig, 2015)

Ab Baars is a highly respected saxophonist on the jazz and free jazz scene, working as a leader and collaborating with the likes of Ken Vandermark among many others. On this album he is playing tenor saxophone, clarinet and shakuhachi along with Wilbert de Joode on bass and Martin van Duynhoven on drums. The album consists of ten original tracks inspired by classical composer Olivier Messiaen. The trio probes the length of music with a flighty but fun sensibility that keeps the proceedings open for expression by each member of the group. “Steen” is one of the highlights with Duynhoven developing a shimmering drum feature to a deeply rhythmic foundation and allowing bass and high-pitched clarinet to jump off into their own improvisations. The hollow sound of the shakuhachi gives the music of “Karmozijn” a haunted air, as does the band’s use of mysterious silences throughout the piece. “Fanfare” is a surprisingly gentle ballad with light drumming, prominent bass and a dirge of melodic saxophone. Things develop in a rawer manner on “Raaf” where squawks and peals of raw saxophone evoke the anguish of Albert Ayler’s early music, as the trio develops the free improvisation in a loose formation. The album holds together well as meeting of contemporary classical music and free jazz and is recommended to fans of European free improvisation. Slate Blue - CdBaby

Send comments to Tim.