Ig Henneman (NL) - viola and compositions
Ab Baars (NL) - tenorsax/clarinet/shakuhachi
Axel Dörner (DE) – trumpet
Lori Freedman (CA) - bass clarinet/clarinet
Wilbert de Joode (NL) – bass
Marilyn Lerner (CA) - piano
Live @ the Ironworks Vancouver brings the Ig Henneman Sextet into an intimate setting where all of the diversity of colours and contrasts melt into their surroundings, implicating the listener in their sound world. Silence is the void from which the intentional sounds spring forth. However, as Slavoj Zizek described the beginning of existence as coming from nothing, the nothing itself is in fact a “positively charged void.” Like Cage or Feldman, the silence is fecund and beautiful. Rich chords separated by resonating silences, delicate solo improvisations accompanied by the rattle and clatter of audience chairs, everything draws the listener in to each detail.
Just listen to “Kindred Spirits,” which begins with a shakuhachi solo from Ab Baars accompanied by the sounds of the hall: hearers-unintentional performers united with the musicians in the creative act. Instruments and “noises” come and go, sounds hanging in the 4 dimensional time space without ego.
The fragility of the compositions and performances are never sentimental, but instead show the power that’s inherent in the pianissimo and the (almost)silence itself. And the fortissimo that is also on display (such as Ab Baars’ and Axel Dörner’s joyous proclamations in “A ‘n B” or Lori Friedman’s exhilarating multi-octave yelps on “Bold Swagger”) never feels overbearing, or overly masculine, but simply another intensity of this positively charged void.
This is a stunning document with a unique sense of synergy. Full of improvisations that allow the members to express themselves while genuinely interacting with the implications of the compositions. Wilbert de Joode’s powerfully unpredictable propulsion supplies a framework for “Tracks”, which features various groupings of musicians jumping in and out of his path, leading it down numerous side steps but ultimately never derailing his drive. We hear it in Axel Dörner’s improvisation in “Light Verse” where utilizes an 8th note motif to explore subtle shifts of pulse, stretching the possibilities of time before moving into uncharted territories. "Bold Swagger" showcases Lori Freedman’s exuberant bass clarinet playing which blurs the lines between modern “classical” music and jazz.
“Prelude for the Lady with the Hammer” is an excellent example of Ig’s compositional talents and the way she uses contrasts to build tension and draw out the sonic strengths of the ensemble. A brief piano introduction slowly evolves into a tender melodic line shared between the clarinets and accented by the bass. Before long, a forte melody enters above the continuing theme. The counterpoint between these lines is beautifully coordinated and they eventually conjoin into lush chords which crescendo into empty spaces leaving room for Wilbert de Joode’s bass improvisation to come to the fore. The chords occasionally return, framing the solo. When Marilyn Lerner enters we clearly see how improvisation can become a tool of exploring compositional potential. She deftly exposes the relationship between chords and silence which Ig’s writing implies. Utilizing the sustain pedal to explore the sensuality of decay. She triggers the return of the composition in a way that is completely natural to the performance. The piece continues, but never returns to the original statement of the theme with it’s contrasting secondary theme, instead it wanders on, melody taken briefly by the viola, then more unison melody, a final note from the viola and piano respectively and it’s gone. An abrupt ending that leaves you waiting to breathe. It’s also hard to tell what exactly is composed or improvised. This vagueness just aides the feeling of vulnerability that is present throughout the album.
“A ‘n B” provides great insight into the configuration of the Sextet as it showcases two trio improvisations. After an initial theme we hear Ig Henneman, Lori Freedman and Marilyn Lerner, who also happen to make up the Queen Mab Trio. It is easy to hear that they are accustomed to improvising together, Lori Freedman showing her virtuoso bass clarinet singing, whining and jumping in, over and through Marilyn’s rhythmic piano playing, with Ig’s more textural explorations creating a framework. Suddenly, we hear Ab barreling in like he’s crashing a party. Of course, the others are happy to welcome him and join in the fun, and a short sextet improvisation ensues before voices start disappearing to leave more room for the other half of the Sextet. Ab Baars, Axel Dörner and Wilbert de Joode contrast the first trio, playing with a gleeful fortissimo while showing no less ability to listen sensitively and interact.
As a whole, Live @ the Ironworks Vancouver proves to be a wonderfully cohesive statement which shows the evolution of an ensemble which is sure to reach even greater heights in the future. Beautifully written, brilliantly executed and charmingly recorded with realistic, un-“produced” live sound.
John Dikeman, 12-9-12
Ig Henneman Sextet
Live @ The Ironworks Vancouver
1. Tracks 5:30
2. Prelude for the Lady with the Hammer 8:44
3. Kindred Spirits 9:16
4. Bold Swagger 5:30
5. Light Verse 11:00
6. A ‘n B 9:08
total time 48:24
recording June 28, 2012
TD International Jazz Festival Vancouver
The Ironworks Vancouver
recording editing mixing & mastering
1017 kn amsterdam
with support of the Performing Arts Fund NL, TD International Jazz Festival Vancouver, Andrew Smith Vancouver Live Sound