Ab Baars - tenor saxophone, clarinet & shakuhachi
Meinrad Kneer - double bass
Bill Elgart - drums
An intimate confrontation on sly musical improvisation levels. Together, they meander between form and abstraction, consensus and dissent, dissonance and echo, but the real power lies in the seemingly endless variations of timbre, which take place in their dialogues. Beautiful poetry!
"Such volume and such roaring inspiration! When Ab Baars presses that tenor saxophone to his lips, deeply rumbling and bleating expressively, the blues of Frank Wright and Albert Ayler still simmering in those outer regions, it suddenly gets very quiet on the benches of the Evangelische Kirche of Nickelsdorf. He varies on staccato elements and hyper-intense screaming, only to switch to a softer, almost creamy tone later on, one that’s more aligned with the Zen-calm he exudes. Together with Holland-based bass player Meinrad Kneer and veteran drummer Bill Elgart (Paul Bley, Lee Konitz, etc), they only play sporadically, but it sounds as if they’re doing nothing else.
The bass player and drummer are constantly in touch with each other, using each other’s hints and suggestions, which leads to mesmerizing combinations of bowed strings and gently treated toms and sizzling cymbals, with now and then an abrupt, rumbling explosion. Baars created a more meditative atmosphere on his shakuhachi (which he’s been playing regularly since he bought it on a trip to Japan several years ago) and finally switches to clarinet, with sustained notes and hysterical peaks in which the ghost of John Carter is a fixed presence. And then I’m suddenly reminded of the influence Baars must’ve had on Vandermark’s clarinet playing as well.
The highlight takes place in the second extended piece, when a serene clarinet solo only gains expression and emotion, painfully beautiful and intensely howling and cuts to the bone with carving smears. That you can accomplish this without any form of preparation takes openness, a willingness to listen carefully and baggage, which these three display with class. Baars, Kneer and Elgart won over the entirely filled church with perhaps the most intensely concentrated concert of these four days. Mightily beautiful. So beautiful even, that we didn’t want to interrupt its reverberating beauty with the performance of Sqid, later in that same church."