MP3 Ab Baars Trio & Ken Vandermark - Goofy June Bug (feat. Wilbert de Joode, Ab Baars & Martin van Duynhoven)
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-- Bill Meyer, Down Beat October 2008
11 MP3 Songs in this album (71:43) !
Related styles: Jazz: Modern Creative Jazz, Jazz: Modern Free Jazz, Mood: Quirky
People who are interested in ICP Orchestra Igor Stravinksy Sun Ra should consider this download.
Ab Baars Trio & Ken Vandermark
Goofy June Bug
Ab Baars-tenor sax, clarinet, shakuhachi
Ken Vandermark-tenor sax, clarinet
Wilbert de Joode-double bass
Martin van Duynhoven-drums
An old comedianâs joke: âWhatâs more beautiful than a violin?â The answer of course: âTwo violins.â In jazz terms: better to have two tenor saxophones than settle for just one. If we love the sound of a Selmer or King for its strength and muscularity, paired tenors promise a double dose of excitement, and joyful competition. Think of Wardell Grayâs battles with Dexter Gordon; Coltrane wailing beside Pharoah Sanders; Lester Young versus Herschel Evans in the Basie band; Clifford Jordan and John Gilmore blowing in from Chicago...
Goofy June Bug, the meeting of Dutch reedist Ab Baars (born 1955) and his American counterpart Ken Vandermark (1964), offers the uproar youâd expect when acknowledged tenor heavyweights join forcesâtry âHonest Johnââs raw power lines for an example, or the alarming barks in the second bit from âThen He Whirled About.â But thereâs plenty more to enjoy here than displays of heroic strength.
Ab Baars has been a member of Misha Mengelbergâs and Han Benninkâs Instant Composers Pool for more than a quarter of a century. While his own trio with bassist Wilbert de Joode and drummer Martin van Duynhoven (documented on seven excellent CDs on GeestGronden and Wig) has Baars stamped all over it, its music shows more than a few traces of ICPâs influence: open forms, varied improvisational strategies, wacky use of juxtaposition, and an unwillingness to treat jazzâor any musicâas a fixed art form.
Thatâs where Ken Vandermark comes in. Since arriving in Chicago in 1989, Vandermark has been a key figure in the Windy Cityâs new music scene, organizing and co-directing concert series, and exploring his various interests in a wide array of groupsâthe Vandermark 5, Steam, Caffeine, the Cinghiale duo, the DKV, FME and Steelwool Trios, Spaceways Inc. and the Territory Band, to name a few. Different as they are, these bands confirm Vandermarkâs commitment to the tougher side of the American saxophone tradition, as well as his fascination for non-fixed European-style improvising, ICPâs idiosyncratic brand included.
Like his Dutch colleague, Vandermark favors a rough, gruff sonority associated with free jazz patriarchs such as Albert Ayler, but like Ab he knows sustained silence and hushed tones can be powerful too. (Hear his feathery clarinet on âMemory Moves Forward.â) Though theyâre unlikely to be pigeonholed as just hard-blowing tenors, neither has problems dealing with a rock bandâs volume level. In his early 20s, Ab contributed high-energy solos to an album by Dutch new wavers Flying Spiderz (1979âs Pressure, which pops up on eBay occasionally); Ken played with the punk/jazz Flying Luttenbachers, and has recorded a tribute to George Clintonâs Funkadelic. More important, both are associated with Dutch impro-punks The Ex. Ab has performed and recorded with guitarist Terrie Ex since the late eighties, Ken recently joined Lean Left, a quartet featuring the twin guitars of Terrie and Andy Ex.
Another common trait: both players acknowledge their debts to past masters, dedicating albums or pieces to Johnny Hodges, Von Freeman, Sun Ra, John Carter and other luminaries. Independently, each wrote a musical thank-you card to a mutual hero: in 1994 Vandermark dedicated his âDay Jobâ to the great trombonist Roswell Rudd; four years later Baars added âPortrait of Roswell Ruddâ to his trioâs repertoire.
All of which made it inevitable theyâd bump into each other eventually. It happened on November 14th 1999, at Chicagoâs Empty Bottle, where they found themselves on stage âlike a longstanding duoâ (Abâs words), joining forces in an impromptu meeting with loud drummers Hamid Drake and Han Bennink. (The Dutchmen were in town with ICP that weekend.) They resolved to work together again. It took nearly a decade to make it happen, but when they did, in the fall of 2007, it went off with a bang.
Goofy June Bug, recorded in Amsterdam after a tour of 20 concerts all over Europe, is proof of a predictably fruitful collaboration. (See kenvandermark.com for Kenâs extensive and entertaining tour report.) Both players contributed original compositions, mostly tied to specific inspirations, though the connections may not be obvious on first hearing.
Take the opening âStraws,â a mysterious sounding miniature with delightfully tricky timing. The music doesnât reveal as much right away, but the title cues associations with composer-arranger Billy Strayhorn (nicknamed Strays), and one of Abâs heroes, Igor Strawinsky (nicknamed Straws by among others Cecil Taylorâor so Steve Lacy once told Ab). A fragment of Igorâs ballet Agon inspired this graceful dance for tenor and clarinet, stirred up by Martin van Duynhovenâs well-tuned snare and toms.
Honest John was Sun Raâs nickname for his Arkestraâs principal soloist, the late great John Gilmoreâadmired by John Coltrane and every living tenorist on the planet. Again, there are no literal quotes or reconstructions, but an evocation of the raving, rousing spirit of Gilmoreâs music. Van Duynhovenâs threatening rattles and the dark force of Wilbert de Joodeâs arco intensify the unsettled mood.
âPrince of Venosaâ refers to Don Carlo Gesualdo di Venosa, whose 16th century madrigals Stravinsky loved, and whose leaping dissonances continue to inspire contemporary composers. Ab took a small fragment of the five-part âChiaro risplender suole/ A tutti il mio bel soleâ (number five in Gesualdoâs sixth book of madrigals: a lament over love in vain) and turned it into a thing of aching beauty. In his weblog, Ken wrote: âAnother extreme piece among extremes, and again Ab used such simple and straightforward materials to create a staggering amount of tension ... impossible and perfect.â
Three years ago, on a solo tour of Japan, Ab bought a shakuhachi, the traditional end-blown bamboo flute. Heâs been studying the instrument ever since, and in 2006 was ready to record his first shakuhachi improvisations, for the Wig album Stof, with Ig Henneman on viola. Tellingly, on this second occasion the wispy flute is featured, not on the Asian âMunmyoâ (based on a recording of ancient Confucian music from Korea), but in Vandermarkâs eerily touching âMemory Moves Forward.â In Abâs hands shakuhachi adds a tentative, unadorned sound thatâs as close to his own clarinet playing as to traditional Japanese music.
One clue you think you canât miss: âGoofy June Bug.â This soulful, swinging tune with a joyous post-free solo by Ken sounds like a nod to tenorist Archie Shepp and his tune âWherever June Bugs Go.â (Some might even hear echoes of Dutch tenor hero Hans Dulfer, who Van Duynhoven collaborated with in a similarly swinging vein, in the 70s.) None of the above, says Ab: the title comes from a poem by American beat and Zen Buddhist Philip Whalen. Ab found the line âGoofy june-bug forgotten poet morning stompâ in a Whalen poem and was immediately taken by its musicality. (You can hear that lineâs rhythm in the melody.)
More connections: Whalen dedicated that poemââPlums, Metaphysics, an/ Investigation, a Visit, and/ a Short Funeral Odeââto the memory of poet William Carlos Williams, who in his turn inspired âThen He Whirled About.â Ab lifted that title from âThe Artist,â a lightfooted poem in which Williams suggests a ballet dancerâs pirouette.
The two tenors flow in the rhythm of Williamsâs phrases â
blissfully spiraling from line to line,
â only to be cut off by a sudden,
But the show was over.
âErik van den Berg, 2008
1 Straws [Baars] 3.46
AB clarinet _ KV tenor sax
2 Honest John [Baars] 6.02
AB tenor sax _ KV tenor sax [2nd solo]
3 Losing Ground [Vandermark] 11.56
AB clarinet _ KV tenor sax
4 Waltz Four Monk [Vandermark] 7.56
AB tenor sax _ KV clarinet
5 Prince of Venosa [Baars] 5.11
AB clarinet _ KV clarinet
6 Then He Whirled About [Baars] 7.04
AB tenor sax _ KV tenor sax
7 Memory Moves Forward [Vandermark] 9.17
AB shakuhachi _ KV clarinet
8 Munmyo [Baars] 4.02
AB clarinet _ KV clarinet
9 Return [Baars] 5.08
AB tenor sax [solo] _ KV tenor sax
10 Goofy June Bug [Baars] 8.27
AB tenor sax _ KV tenor sax [solo]
11 Lunch Poem [Baars-Van Duynhoven-De Joode-Vandermark] 2.54
AB shakuhachi _ KV tenor sax
total time 71.44
Ab Baars [buma stemra]
Ken Vandermark [twenty first mobile music/ascap]
recording october 21 & 22 2007 bimhuis amsterdam
Guido Tichelman/Azazello, Micha de Kanter
mixing & editing
Guido Tichelman/Azazello, Ab Baars, Ig Henneman
Erik van den Berg
photos & design
supported by the Dutch Fund for Performing Arts+
1017 kn amsterdam
in partnership with CDbaby
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