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Moods: Mood: Quirky Avant Garde: Free Improvisation Avant Garde: Structured Improvisation

By Location
Netherlands

Duo Baars - Henneman

Duo Baars - Henneman
Ab Baars tenorsax clarinet shakuhachi
Ig Henneman viola

“There’s a breathless tension and expectation in these musical dialogues, as if neither participant has any idea what is coming next, and the music trembles on the edge of revelation. It has no need for any of the trappings of jazz or classical or any other kind of music. It is sound discovered and organized with no preconceived notions and it is both incredibly touching and intellectually thrilling at the same time.”
— Ed Hazell, Signal to Noise

Duo Baars-Henneman features two of the leading composer-improvisers on the thriving Dutch jazz scene — multi-reed player Ab Baars and violist Ig Henneman. The USA tour 2012 featured a selection of their new program, Autumn Songs, a suite of free improvisations and compositions. The program has also been released on the CD Autumn Songs Wig 22 (2013).

Partners in life as well as music, Baars and Henneman have worked together since the late eighties. They first performed as a duo in 1999 at the Festival ControIndicazioni in Rome, and have since toured as a duo worldwide throughout Japan, USA, Canada, Brazil and throughout Europe. Author Mischa Andriessen describes their music as, “two voices that belong together without being completely subsumed by the other; they literally play with one another.” In 2006, they recorded their debut duo album, Stof (Wig), which critic Frans van Leeuwen described as “A poetic soundscape, a musical fairy tale, a walk without a key map; this CD is as intangible and ambiguous as the little word ‘stof.’” In early 2013 they will present their new duo CD Autumn Songs recorded live at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam on Nov 30, 2012.

Working with a combination of compositions and completely improvised pieces, Baars and Henneman collaborate in a way which is immediate and honest yet full of contradictions. They have gleaned elements of numerous genres, including jazz and western classical music, but also Native American song and more popular idioms. This, mixed with a deep understanding of free jazz and free improvisation in all its forms, has led them to a sort of erudite yet irreverent personal language which allows them to nod to the past while destroying its restrictions. This irreverence and playfulness is something that is typical in Dutch improvised music. However, where an artist such as legendary drummer Han Bennink is happy to express this outwardly in the form of theater and absurd antics, Henneman and Baars have found their own way to rebel against convention. Within the duo one hears a constant tight rope walk of experimentation and control. Never content to take the easy path, to make music that just works, they are constantly pushing the music, and their listeners, right to the breaking point.

Ab Baars plays tenor saxophone, clarinet, and shakuhachi with a completely idiosyncratic style. His own groups include the Ab Baars trio with bassist Wilbert de Joode and drummer Martin van Duynhoven, which he has led for more than 20 years. On several occasions, the trio has welcomed special guests, including Steve Lacy, Ken Vandermark, Roswell Rudd, Vincent Chancy, and Fay Victor, among others. The more recent Ab Baars quartet features de Joode, van Duynhoven, and trombonist Joost Buis. Since 1986, he has been a distinctive voice in Holland’s premiere improvising large ensemble, the ICP Orchestra, led by Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink. In addition he is a frequent collaborator with the Dutch rock band The Ex. In 1989, Ab was awarded the highest honor a jazz musician can receive in the Netherlands, the Boy Edgar Prize. “His work has always been smart and marked by meticulous care,” says DownBeat critic Peter Margasak, “but as he’s aged he’s increasingly channeled his ideas into concentrated, perfectly pitched excursions that focus on specific notions without wasted notes.”

Ig Henneman is “an artist incapable of remaining satisfied with any music that lies strictly within the boundaries of any one style,” writes critic Ed Hazell in Signal to Noise. She has created, “a beautiful, functioning musical world all its own that Henneman developed organically out of poetry, jazz, classical, improvised music—and birdsong.” She has composed for and led the Ig Henneman Tentet and the Ig Henneman String Quartet. In addition, she is a member of the Queen Mab Trio with Canadians Lori Freedman on clarinet and Marilyn Lerner on piano. She has also composed for ensembles and soloists. Most recently, Henneman has led the Ig Henneman Sextet, an international band with members from Germany, Canada, and the Netherlands. Their debut album Cut a Caper (Wig), was described as “an album brilliantly composed, performed by a stellar ensemble and executed with staggering passion. Adventurous, captivating, demanding and rewarding,” when Jazz Alchemist picked it as one of the best albums of 2011. Also the recent second album Live @ The Ironworks has been very well received.