recorded by albert van veenendaal, january 24 and december 1, 2008
at bethaniënklooster, amsterdam
mixed and mastered by micha de kanter
all compositions by baars / kneer, ©buma
special thanks to micha de kanter, jack lina and bethaniënklooster
design: lysander le coultre (strangelove creatives)
photography: monique besten
evil rabbit records is a member of www.toondist.com
bernie koenig, july-august-september 2012, cadence
another duet. but this one works. the tracks are all short so there is little time for too much repetition and baars and kneer create some very nice conversations. in some cases i actually wanted the tunes go on a bit more. i guess that proves the old saying about leaving the audience wanting more. what also makes this record work is that baars plays a variety of instruments so the tone and textures keep changing. this especially the case with the japanese flutes. the contrast between the flutes and bass is very nice, especially when kneers uses the bow, as on “bird talk”, where kneer creates some really interesting sounds.
kneer actually is quite creative in getting a whole range of sounds from the bass. one would normally think of a horn-bass duo as equals but with the bass following the horn. here there is real equality and kneer leads as much as baars.
on a more general note, baars’ style is somewhat pointilistic. he likes short jabs, with occasional longer phrases, while kneer produces all kinds of sounds from the bass. every once in a while i wasn’t sure who was playing. while this record works, i must admit that on a personal level i didn’t always care for baars’ playing, especially on tenor. though i always enjoyed kneer’s bass playing. but that personal reaction should not take away from a positive critical assessment. people who like this kind of playing will certainly like this cd.
Aydın, 13 aralık 2010, www.cazkolik.com
yeni bir 'free jazz' albümünün heyecan verici özellikleri okan aydın'ın cümlelerinde kendini yeniden tanımlıyor...
uzunca sayılabilecek bir aranın ardından bizi her dinleyişte heyecanlandıran nitelikli bir “free jazz” albümüyle tekrar karşınızdayız. 2006 yılında piyanist albert van veenendaal ve kontrabas sanatçısı meinrad kneer tarafından kurulan evil rabbit records etiketiyle geçtiğimiz aylarda yayımlanan bu çalışma, etiketin kurucusu kneer’in tenor saksafon üstadı ab baars ile gerçekleştirdiği etkileyici bir düet: windfall.
evil rabbit bağımsız bir plak şirketi olarak, güncel ve modern seslerin yanında doğaçlama müziğe odaklanmayı şiar edinmiş, bu güzergahtaki yapımlara ve müzisyenlere ev sahipliği şeklinde özetlenebilecek bir misyona sahip. ana eksende avrupa cazının yeraldığı bu güzergah elbetteki farklı ve otantik yaklaşımlara da her daim göz kırpıyor.
benzer yaklaşımı sergileyen birçok bağımsız plak şirketi gibi evil rabbit records da öncelikli olarak paralel mentaliteye sahip sanatçıların nitelikli üretimlerine kucak açarak bir nevi kendi özel çevresini yaratıyor ve bu eksen üzerinden de sanatçılara, müzisyenlere ve farklı projelere seslerini duyurabilecek bir platform imkanı sağlıyor. samimiyet, “iyi” müziğe olan hassas yaklaşımlar ve paylaşımcılık; aslında sınırları konmamış bu platformun yazılmamış mini anayasasının kılcal damarlarını oluşturuyor. bu yaklaşımın yansımalarını firmanın görsel konseptinde ve cd tasarımlarında da yakalamak mümkün. daha detaycı bir kişisel gözlem için evil rabbit’in web sitesini ziyaret etmenizi naçizane salık veririz: http://www.evilrabbitrecords.eu
windfall albümünde hollandalı müzisyen ab baars tenor saksafon, klarnet ve bir tür japon flütü olan shakuhachi’de http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/shakuhachi karşımıza çıkıyor. müzisyen aynı zamanda geçtiğimiz aylarda 20. yaşını kutlayan akbank caz festivali kapsamında istanbul’a gelen icp orchestra’nın da bir üyesi olarak babylon’da sahne almıştı. çeyrek yüzyıllık geniş bir zaman dilimine yayılan müzisyenlik geçmişi oldukça parıltılı olan ve amerikalı saksafoncu roscoe mitchell’den etkilenen (ve bir dönem de kendisiyle birlikte çalışan) ab baars’ın solo ve ortak projelerine hızlı bir göz atış bile müzisyenin kimliğine ilişkin sağlam ipuçları görmemizi sağlıyor. bu uzunca listede han bennink, anthony braxton, john carter, the ex, sunny murray, sonic youth, steve lacy, cecil taylor ve ken vandermark gibi çok önemli isimler var.
1970 doğumlu genç bir kontrbasçı (kabul 40 yaş o kadar da genç değil ama ucu bize de dokunuyor o yüzden bu değerlendirme!) olan meinrad kneer modern cazla doğaçlamanın sınırlarında gezinen, yaratıcı kimliği ön planda olan ehil bir müzisyen. almanya doğumlu olmasına rağmen eğitimini hollanda’da sürdüren kneer, özellikle 1998-2005 yılları arasında aktif bir üyesi olduğu ve tobias klein ile oluşturdukları dalgoo projesiyle de biliniyor.
windfall’a gelince, 11 parçadan oluşan albüm yol boyunca çizgileri belirlenmiş bir kulvar dahilinde fazla uçlara dokunmadan ama doğaçlamın getirdiği değişkenlik ve dinamizmi tedbirlice ve tasarruflu bir şekilde kullanarak yol alıyor. her parçada minik öykücüklerden beslenen bir gidişatı ve kendi hikayesi lezzetini yakalamak mümkün. genel bir bakış açısıyla aynı mahir ellerden çıktığı belli ancak her biri minik farklılıklar taşıyan sanat objeleri gibi bir benzetme dahi yapmak mümkün. enstrümanlar kadar iki müzisyen arasındaki dengenin de tüm parçalara yansıdığını belirtmeden geçmeyelim.
albümün açılışını yapan the staircase incident saksafonun liderliğinde üst perdeden koyu kontrbas dokunuşlarıyla şekilleniyor. saksafonun daha meraklı ve sorgulayan haline kneer sakin, ağırbaşlı cevaplar veriyor adeta. ilerleyen dakikalarda biraz daha alevlenen bu sürtüşme baars’ın çizdiği eksen üzerinde bizi içine çekmeyi başarıyor. albert ayler’i anımsatan saksafon kendinden emin bir şekilde parçayı sonlarken sırayı ant logics alıyor.
bu parçada kontrbas daha sabırsız, saksafonsa daha aceleci bir şekilde adeta birbirlerini kovalıyorlar. kısa üflemeler, kontrbas üzerinde hızlıca gezinen notalar parçaya farklı bir dinamizm getiriyor. saksafonun “iç gıcıklayıcı” haykırışları arasında kontrbas da söz sahibi olmak istercesine bir hareketlenmenin içine girince doğaçlama vurgusu da bir nebze kuvvetleniyor bu parçada.
albüme adını veren windfall parçasının en dikkat çekici yanı bir tür japon flütü olduğunu belirttiğimiz shakuhachi’nin ilk defa kulaklarımıza arz-ı endam edişi oluyor. parçanın geri kalan kısmının başrolü ise bu enstrümana sakin sessiz bir arka plan hazırlamak olarak beliriyor. ardından gelen wood wind albümün en keyifli parçalarından biri. yüksek temposu, kneer’in varyasyonları ve baars’ın saksafonun destekleyici cümleleri arasında harmanlanan parça, albümün farklı dilinin kendi sınırlarını zorladığı (dinleyiciye kendini ispata çalışır denli) istekli ve arzulu bir atmosfere sahip.
long way home ve yine shakuhachi’nin devreye girdiği bird talk klasik caz tınılarının uzağında bir arayışa ev sahipliği yapıyorlar. long way home, philip glass esintileri taşıyan havasıyla farklı bir kimliğe bürünürken, bird talk’ta nefesliler bir adım öne çıkarak parçanın ana omurgasına yerleşiyorlar.
insinuated instability durağan bir arka plan dahiline ilerlerken, the pledge minimalist bir yaklaşımla uzayıp giden saksafon tınıları arasında michael nyman’ı anımsatan bir klasik müzik parçası havasını taşıyor. albümün sonlarına mevzilenmiş üç parça olan eastern rudiment, into philosophy ve kapanış parçası olan target practise arasında ise into philosophy “delişmen” havasıyla bir adım daha öne çıkıyor.
windfall genel bir değerlendirmede alkışı hakeder nitelikte bir kontrbas / saksafon düeti olarak yoğrulmuş bir albüm. doğaçlamanın önemli dinamiklerinden biri olan çokça beraber çalmış olmak, ya da başka bir ifadeyle birbirinin halinden / dilinden anlıyor olmak bu ortak çalışmada hissedilir derecede bir fark yaratmış durumda. gerektiğinde sakin sularda gezinen albüm, yeri geldiğinde dalgalanıp keyifli bir temponun sürekliliğinde içimizi kaynatan bir dinamizmi de başarıyla yansıtıyor.
keyifli bir diyalog olarak da tanımlanabilecek olan albüm, bazen kendi sözünün altını kuvvetlice çizip öne çıkıveren, bazense birbirinden destek alarak daha okkalı bir tondan çığlıklar atan parçaların eşliğinde kendi halinde bir köşeye bırakılabilecek vasatlığın ötesinde bir hazineyi barındırıyor aslında içinde.
ken waxman, september 2010, jazzword.com
although not as unusual as they would have been as recently as 20 years ago, duo sessions by woodwind players and bassists still necessitate having a bull fiddler participating who has seemingly limitless technique plus a bubbling fountain of ideas. the reason is simple, while the horn players has many keys he can sound – on more than one instrument on these discs – the bassist only has four tightly wound strings and a bow with which to work.
luckily both bassists here are up to the challenge. known for his skills in both the improvised and notated worlds, bertram turetzky easily complements los angles-based multi-reedman vinny golia’s work on the san diego session. turetzky, who until his recent retirement, was a music professor at university of california, san diego, uses a variety of instrumental feints and flourishes to mark his sonic territory. that isn’t surprising for a player whose versatility has allowed him to participate in sessions involving players as different as mainstream jazz pianist mike wofford and polymath trombonist george lewis.
recorded at almost the exact same time as the other disc but in amsterdam, that is as close to the atlantic ocean as san diego is to the pacific, is dutch bassist meinrad kneer. he proves to be as sonically adaptable as turetzky on 11 instant compositions with dutch multi-reedist ab baars. baars, whose best-known affiliation is with the icp orchestra, brings his tenor saxophone, clarinet, shakuhachi and noh-kan to the session. windfall demonstrates that this timbral collection didn’t faze kneer. versatility is his watchword. although kneer often records with prepared pianist albert van veenendaal, he also works frequently with jazz-folk-rocker guitarist paul pallesen and other leading lights of the netherlands’ improv scene as saxophonist tobias delius.
one instance of the baars/kneer concordance occurs on “bird talk”, which links the bassist’s distanced creaks and shuffle bowing with shrill whistling and intermittent, high-pitched twitters with an oriental cast, likely produced by baars’ noh kan or bamboo transverse flute. by the piece's completion, the reedist’s biting shrills are matched by the bassist’s spiccato scrubs.
similar strategies arise on tunes using more conventional instruments such as tenor saxophone on “the pledge” and clarinet on “insinuated instability”. on the first, baars’ initial flat-line undulations ascend to continuous harsh reed blasts as kneer crunches and scratches andante lines – his stretched tessitura unperturbed by the saxophonist’s concentrated atonality. as a matter of fact, when baars produces double, triple and quadruple variations on certain note clusters, kneer does the same by using bow motions and concluding passages that are both legato and basso. on the latter tune it’s baars’ moderato clarinet lines which have to catch up, as the bassist’s finger-style accompaniment blossoms first with strums and twangs and then with sawing, crackling, single-note resonation. downshifting to a gentler output as he solos, the clarinetist manages to interest kneer in what could be baroque inventions, ending the piece with warm, near pastoral counterpoint.
in truth, the most effective duets involve baars’ tenor, including “the staircase incident”, where between kneer’s thick string-stopping and the reedist’s jagged and harsh cries, it sounds as if the two – without drums and piano – are attempting a monk quartet emulation, with the reeedist’s charlie rouse-styled lines responding to the unheard other members’ contributions.
elsewhere the saxophonist can accelerate to aylerian heights, piling great gouts of notes and extensions into every breath, featuring tongue stops as well as sudden leaps into the altissimo register, while the bassist bows muscularly alongside him. other tunes suggest the distinctive textures british reeedist evan parker brings to tongue flutters and growling cries. but the dutch players output is more measured, a contrast to the circular breathing of the british saxophonist. baars’ change of pace is likely the result of the pitch-slides, slaps and col legno undercurrents from the bassist which ground and centre the other’s improvisations.
someone whose instrumental command is as notable as parker’s, but who spreads his expertise over a lengthening collection of reeds, is golia. some of his droned, tongued or vibrated timbres here can be attributed to such easily identifiable instruments as baritone saxophone or flute; others appear linked to unusual tonal extensions, produced by pushing expected reed properties to their limits, resulting in bagpipe-like textures or those which could be produced by two chromatic pipes blown simultaneously. no matter which texture appears, turetzky has the appropriate response to it, either arco or pizzicato, and often in broken chords.
for instance “the tzadik dances” mates discursive resonations produced by spiccato and col legno pops against the wood of the bass with swells and squeals from the baritone saxophone. even as golia’s multiphonics expand and turn to overblowing honks, the shuffles and double-stopping from the bassist is joined by mouthed sighs, whistles and groans that soon vocally expand golia’s bag of tricks. eventually the saxophonist’s low-pitched twitters and snorts are matched by contrapuntal sul ponticello rubs and finalized by a tough wooden slap. turetzky’s voice-extensions are put to good use on “that one”, when golia’s staccato, altissimo-register clarinet or sopranino lines narrow to rapier-thin vibrations and single note peeps. bottom tones are created by the bassist’s harmonically sophisticated string plucks and wood punches, as well as verbal growls and yowls. fittingly, harsh stops punctuate the improvisation as well as end it.
with golia capable of sluicing from below-ground chalumeau snorts to skyscraper-jumping altissimo runs, often congruently, turetzky’s staccato and spiccato string strategies are always at the ready. should golia suddenly surprise by unrolling stuttering split tones or masticated pressures, then the bassist’s technique allows him to create resonating squeaks or bumps depending on the context. “reading rumi” for instance, where the reedist’s texture begins with chanter-and-bellows-styled rumbles, continue with peeping flute variations and conclude with subterranean snores from the bass clarinet, don’t faze the bassist. among sul tasto line curves, thumping friction and knife-sliding string patterns, every chord structure and melody suggestion is met.
double bass and woodwind duos may still not be that common. nevertheless with these cds both baars and kneer plus turetzky and golia prove they can work magnificently.
stef, august 2010, free jazz
for fans of free improvisation, here is another great sax-bass duo album, with dutchman ab baars on reeds and german meinrad kneer on bass. the album brings you eleven tracks of relatively accessible jazz with each piece having its own musical dynamics, sound and development, created out of nothing more than excellent listening skills and anticipation, the result of having played together a lot.
yet the most astonishing aspect is the emotional depth that is the exclusive of improvised music, but certainly never guaranteed. listen to "the pledge", which gradually evolves from slow and somewhat joyful playing of sax and arco bass into a straining, haunting repetition around a single tonal center. baars's influences stretch from monk over the art ensemble of chicago to butch morris, with whom he played, with the additional eastern element and shakuhachi playing, as on "bird talk" or "eastern rudiment". although born and educated in germany, kneer is very active in the netherlands, and his playing is indebted to greats such as peter kowald (the physicality) and barry guy (the creative irreverence).
together, they meander between form and abstraction, full of assent and dissent, dissonance and echoing, yet the true power lies in the almost endless variation of timbre in which the dialogue takes place, adding an almost voice-like inflection and subtlety. despite their freedom of approach, they deal with it in a very mature way : they are beyond the deconstruction phase : there is no shouting, there is no shock element : the music almost arises organically out of spontaneous sounds, and built upon through creative interaction.
in sum, two artists who understand music, have journeyed deep and far to know what works and what doesn't, and use all the constraints and possibilities of the duo format to bring a very varied, coherent, adventurous and intense album. a joy for the open ear.
tom hull, august 2010, www.tomhull.com
tenor sax-bass duets, although baars occasionally lightens up with clarinet, shakuhachi, or noh-kan (a "high pitched japanese bamboo transverse flute commonly used in traditional imperial noh and kabuki theatre"). one of baars' more appealing, more charming efforts, although the real test here is following the bass, which demands and rewards concentration.
bruce lee gallanter, august 2010, downtown music gallery
ab baars on tenor sax, clarinet, shakuhachi & noh-kan (transverse flute) and meinrad kneer on double bass. ab baars is a longtime member of the icp orchestra as well as leading his own trio & duos plus collaborating with ig henneman, michael moore and the ex. bassist meinrad kneer can be found one at least three other discs on this, the evil rabbit label playing in a great duo with albert van veenendaal and in playstation 6. these are all improvised duos and i was knocked out by the depth of expression and inspired dialogue of both musicians. the both bowed bass and tenor sax, clarinet or wooden flutes all have a similar range and often sound perfect together weaving their voices and ideas into a dynamic exchange. the shakuhachi and acoustic bass on "insinuated instability" sound especially sublime, slowly caressing each other's poignant touch & tone. each of the eleven pieces here have a way of presenting a thoughtful and refreshing dialogue between two most impressive musicians. i recently heard & reviewed the third disc from the van veenendaal/kneer duo with guests and was blown away by it, which is amazing since i hadn't heard of either musician before. this is yet another extraordinary duo.
robert iannapollo, summer 2010, signal to noise
reed player ab baars is part of the second generation of dutch free improvisers and has been a member of the icp orchestra for over 25 years. an accomplished tenor saxophonist and clarinetist (who has recently added the shakuhachi to his arsenal), he’s an improviser of intelligence who never takes the easy route. he’s as comfortable with free improvisation as he is with interpreting the music of duke ellington or john carter. for windfall he is joined by bassist meinrad kneer, one of the younger players on the dutch jazz scene (though german-born), in a series of improvised duets. in this format, one gets to hear baars up close and personal and beautifully recorded. the tenor/ bass pieces (6 out of 11 tracks) are standouts, but that’s not to minimize the remaining tracks. on the tenor duets, his horn blows with an aylerian blend of intensity and pathos but the sound is uniquely baars’. he’s well-matched by kneer, who plays all over his instrument, eliciting all manner of complementary sounds: scrapes, rumbling growls, high-end harmonics, deep resonant plucked strings. this is a satisfying set of duets worth hearing by any follower of improvised music.
mitterer, april/ may 2010, freistil
an intimate musical meeting at sly improvisation levels takes place here. ab baars, the dutch reed player with his sense for elegant solutions in the complex area of atonal scarcity, performs here with bass player meinrad kneer (as a sideman in demand, untiringly on the way, for example with han bennink, fred frith, tristan honsinger, paul lovens, michael vatcher and last with the group ‘i compani’; who’s manoevrable bass playing at the end, with all his empathic reactions towards the partner, makes the cd ‘windfall' so extraordinary) a fine-tuned show of (apparently) impossible sound amalgamations, which strive however to each other, serving themselves with a fragmentary vocabulary, which again resolves in audible and above all, comprehensible focuses. interesting and of a harsh beauty.
klaus hübner, april 2010, www.jazzpodium.de
when some years ago the paths of tenor saxophonist ab baars and bassist meinrad kneer crossed, their wish to co-operate continuously quickly developed. a good decision, because here a duet has found itself, speaking till the nuances the same musical language. in countless living-room-sessions their repertoire matured and has been recorded in concentrated form on 'windfall'.
recorded by albert van veenendaal in the bethaniënklooster in amsterdam, baars and kneer put on high the measuring pole.
the sound is thick, compact, stable, ab baars' tone sounds controlled, but never scholastic. cleverly meinrad kneer puts on his string play as for soloing. this gives to the whole the impression, here everybody plays by himself without being busy with the other. nevertheless, this impressionism in the music discloses after a short time. the deception succeeded, the duet is connected as a temporarily separated pair – associations bounce to and fro on fist-thick, imaginary ropes. in the icp orchestra of misha mengelberg, ab baars learnt how to improvise in a collective. 'windfall' seems to be the graduation, where marks for participation and social behavior fade into the sketched notation of avant-garde improvisation.
dm, april 2010, vital weekly
evil rabbit is a label run by dutch pianist albert van veenendaal and german double bass player meinrad kneer. started in 2006, they concentrate on contemporary european jazz and improvised music. most releases concern dutch-based projects of international line ups.
now we focus on the work 'windfall' by ab baars (tenor sax, clarinet, shakuhachi, noh-kan) and meinrad kneer on double bass. kneer is a new name for me. since 1995 he lives in amsterdam, and participates in numerous projects and groups that operate on the borders of jazz, improvised, ethnic and contemporary music. ab baars, a long time member of the famous instant composers pool orchestra, needs no further introduction.
on two occasions in 2008, baars and kneer recorded the 11 improvisations that make up this cd of 46 minutes. to be enjoyed here is a fine interplay between two very skilled musicians. their improvisations move between very raw and very subtle ones, full of nuances and contrasts. their dialogues are however also a bit dry and academic, which is characteristic for some sections of dutch improvised music. this makes it difficult to stay tuned from time to time. at the same time it is clear we witness some beautiful and disciplined poetry here!
vid jeraj, march 2010, jazzin.rs
the eclectic terrain on which the saxophonist ab baars and bassist meinrad kneer are moving, is the free-jazz scene. in his "post" phase free-jazz has been received from the pioneers of the genre in the united states and developed in western europe. it is found in good condition and widely accepted.
next to their very open world-view, both can thank the system in which they grew. the amsterdam scene conserves the traditional genres of music, which have been developed through the academic system, but is sufficiently porous that not only academic music is performed in clubs: that’s paradise. in extreme cases, as according to internal rules of the bimhuis, it is prohibited to run be-bop. the house big-band of the bimhuis is the icp orchestra (child of local legends misha mengelberg and han bennink). this is one of three settings in which an exclusive performance by the 55-year-old baars, can be heard. baars developed the educational guidelines of saxophonist roscoe mitchell, the multi-instrumentalist and co-founder of the art ensemble of chicago. with his trio, featuring since 1995 bassist wilbert de joode and drummer martin van duynhoven, he recorded with steve lacy, butch morris and ken vandermark, as well as tracks of north american indians, and kinda dukish in which he reaffirms ellington. in the chamber music domain, baars performs with his wife and viola player ig henneman, who leads the contemporary trio queen mab and the label stichting wig. the album is recorded with bassist kneer in amsterdam in the bethanienklooster: a monastery, which dates from the 15th century, and is used today as poly-functional space. baars provides an elegant full-register tenor saxophone in pieces like ‘wood-wind’ and the pledge, using a language to the bone, which strikes at the first listening around the middle of the album. it is a wonderful blend of baars’ lyricism, with the expressionistic voices of steve lacy, joe mcphee or david murray. the opening piece ‘staircase incident’ starts the album with a great tenor (again murray) and an extremely discrete kneer. in ‘ant logics’ baars continues on a shrilling bb clarinet while kneer’s bowing unties the blows. in the third piece: windfall (which gives the title to the album), he takes the japanese shakuhachi, pays tribute to pointillism and creates drawings and drones from piano till choking in pianissimo. kneer, however, prominently engaged as co-founder and bass player on evil rabbit, is characterized by a sound quality similar to the one of charlie haden, while being as interesting with the bow. the album was recorded by the other label co-founder albert van veenendaal, pianist, with whom kneer has signed a duet in the catalog. among the other pieces, ‘hiding’ on this album, is the intriguing ‘the pledge’. arco bass and repetitive cutting are followed by two and / or three tones, without harmonic guidelines creating tatters as achieved in the revolutionary compositions by louis andriessen. repeated tones last and lengthen the timbre, acquiring a vocal effect vigorous as a rhetorical manifesto, nowadays neither present in the european art music, nor in its theatrical word. these and similar sonorities, can be heard in baars’ music on the cd’s he recorded with ig henneman. in baars’ and kneer’s current work this could be a post- experimental statement in their discography. considering this musical situation, which is often based on ‘immediate response’ inventions, it could be difficult for the listener to walk on the thin ice of free improvisation. as further editorials are not given, we take for granted that baars and kneer share co-authorship. this makes you wish, like any cosmopolitan playboy, to visit amsterdam, at least one more time.
beppe colli, march 2010, cloudsandclocks.net
an album such as windfall can be defined as being a good specimen of a successful "modern" way to conceive improvisation: one where fine stylistic variety; highly-skilled, complex performing techniques; and a strong connection between the players which practically eliminates all traces of hesitation in a musical development that's for the most part "intuitively" performed "in the moment", all originate something that can be easily defined as being "teleologically coherent". where the final result - keeping in mind the "normal" degree of difficulty when it comes to appreciating stuff like this - can be filed under the "it could be appreciated even by an average listener; provided, that is, s/he's of the attentive/lover of the not-showy kind of surprises variety".??i think it can be said that ab baars is still the famous musician of the duo, even if i suspect this to be largely due more to his having been for a long time a member of the glorious dutch collective going under the name instant composers pool orchestra than to the various line-ups of which he is a mature protagonist. the fine saxophone and clarinet player is heard here in the company of bass player meinrad kneer, a skillful musician with a diverse background (something which is nowadays quite normal) whom i've had the pleasure to hear in various occasions, often alongside the (prepared) piano of albert van veenendaal, who here acts as recording engineer. let's not forget that on this album baars adds shakuachi and noh-kan - the short, wooden japanese flute he also used in stof, the fine album he shared a few years ago with excellent viola player ig henneman - to his usual tenor and clarinet.??mixing and mastering are by micha de kanter. i have to say that i found the stereo balance of this album to be far from ideal (which could be considered as being my personal opinion, but an opinion which has merit, i think), which proved to be an obstacle to my appreciating the music on this album. as it's widely known, ab baars is a musician that can really "project", so when it comes to balance the double bass here is in a position of disadvantage. but since the relationship of counterpoint between the instruments here is miles beyond what can usually be found in what we usually call "classic" jazz, the album remained somewhat opaque to me till i decided to turn the "balance" knob on my amplifier about 15% to the right, which immediately made the music sound intelligible to me.??eleven tracks for about 46', the work is quite "dry" (the editing work i seemed to detect here and there is obviously part of the whole), the final result being quite austere. not "difficult", mind you, but listeners will have to play their part.??jazz by now being no more than an echo, "ethnic" traces can be spotted here, though not necessarily where one would expect them to. the sound of the wind instruments is beautiful and clear (at times hyper-realistic), while the double bass sounds like it's been recorded through multiple mics: notes are clear, one can also hear the harmonics a few feet off the instrument, and also the percussive performance on the fretboard, whenever appropriate. ??the staircase incident opens with tenor, the double bass performing a descending phrase; a "swing" mood reminded me of some beautiful pages in the anthony braxton/dave holland book. ant logics features the clarinet, with the double bass, at times sounding quite chamber-like, played arco. windfall has the shakuhachi, the double bass playing harmonics. wood-wind features a tenor sax that's almost "cool", while the percussive work on the bass fretboard makes the instrument sound like tablas: it's one of the most original, and successful, episodes of the album. long way home has tenor, hushed tones, the double bass (which at times reminded me of bagpipes) producing harmonics. bird talk, featuring the noh-kan, sounds somewhat "ethnic" - while at the same time reminding listeners of bird calls by charles mingus???insinuated instability has the clarinet again, the double bass going smoothly from "ethnic" moods, with "crackling", percussive, sounds, to more "jazzy" tones. the pledge has a concentrated development, with just a few notes, the tenor resembling some reed instrument from north africa and albert ayler at the same time, the double bass performing a chamber-like ostinato played arco; there's a fine, eloquent phrase played by tenor at the end of the piece. almost an "eastern minuet", eastern rudiment features shakuhachi and double bass played arco. into philosophy and target practice are two items cut from the same cloth, featuring tenor and double bass.
guillaume belhomme, march 2010, le son du grisly
born in germany in 1970, double bass player meinrad kneer (co-founder of the label evil rabbit records) studied music at the conservatory of hilversum, having contact with the better dutch improvisers: han bennink, ig henneman (in the string quartet of the viola player) or again ab baars, in whose quartet he performed. with the same baars, kneer recorded recently in duet.
reflecting on the experience, windfall begins with the sound of a tenor saxophone, digging deep on descending notes, plucked on the strings.
pleasant, without being distressing, the encounter becomes even more interesting when kneer takes the bow to cope with the flood of notes fomented by baars, or when baars, done of insatiable repetitions, shows innovative aesthetic, exactly where the listener could have been afraid to await again the repeated.
well heard, without ab baars, windfall would not have been the same disc; but would meinrad kneer without ab baars have improvised without succeeding convincing? to the profit of the doubt: nothing is less sure.
herman te loo, february 2010, jazzflits.nl
that ab baars thrives well in combination with string players we already knew from his fixed duo with viola player ig henneman.
on 'windfall', we meet him in company of bass player meinrad kneer, whose sublime arco work perfectly combines with the legato-lines, played by baars on his tenor saxophone, (for instance on the first piece 'the staircase incident').
sometimes, their musical fantasies are flowing and melodiously, as in the messiaen-like 'insinuated instability' (with baars on clarinet), or the high harmonics of kneer’s bass in combination with baars' shakuhachi in 'long way home'.
but we also know baars as a musician, who gladly looks up the raw sides of its instrument and that happens in various pieces, as in the long, hard notes of 'the pledge'. in that piece kneer places a counterpoint, which almost sounds classical.
'windfall' is a cd full of contrasts, confrontations and conversations of two ideally tuned musicians.
noël tachet, february 2010, improjazz
baars is serene and tragic at times, this is the tremendous ambiguity of the man — everyman, but nevertheless capable of the most amazing flashes, since they never show themselves in the brightness or the violence.
well, rather by a multiplication of the faces in his game, he is so much more flagrant with his usage of the shakuhachi and noh-kan (a bamboo flute also, but traverse and sharp).
far from being a multi-instrumentalist to the direction where several instruments would be necessary to express all the facets of the musician, ab baars puts himself to the school of every instrument and pulverizes them from musical dust into brightness of baars.
the double bass player is temperate, dry, material, neither very harmonic, nor rhythmic — he is sonorous. point. he offers a stravinsky-like counterpoint to the always melodious music of baars, a sonorous rug of a big accuracy. he finds vibrations of the exact volume, depth and timing and relaunches by there even the melodious process of ab baars.