Wig 34 reviews

Cecil’s Dance

released December 11, 2023

...Anyone who wants to hear how sublimely Ab Baars handles timbres, would do well to listen to the last track of his new album, "Cecil's Dance”. “Louange des dames”, a composition by the medieval composer Guillaume de Machaut is in the arrangement for clarinet, trombone and serpent of unparalleled beauty.
Beauty and poignancy are an important part of the sound world of this new trio's debut CD, as their version of "This nearly was mine" by Rodgers & Hammerstein also drips with an Ellingtonian splendor.
But Baars would not be Baars if there were not to be found the necessary unruliness in the music. The opening piece "For John", dedicated to his teacher John Carter, is characterized by the shrill high clarinet notes in which Baars is immediately recognizable.
The addition of Deman is much more than the expansion of the duo; there are three full-fledged voices, with the low brass sometimes fusing together, or the shakuhachi of Baars finding a wistful partner in the serpent.
Herman te Loo-Jazzflits

...“Ab you really do amazing things, and the combination of tuba, sax, and trombone works surprisingly well due to the diversity of sound. I wasn't familiar with Berlinde Deman, who has great chops and takes the tuba in new directions. This was a great setting for Joost Buis, and the whole group sound and your playing and the many shifts made it very listenable"
Steven Loewy journalist

...For the past few weeks I have been listening to your Baars Buis Deman CD "Cecil's Dance" with regularity. What a special, but above all, what a good combination this is! Didn't think this would work so well! The way the CD comes sailing in immediately sets the tone. What a masterful beginning! And you maintain this level nicely. Fine are also your compositions in which the human voice comes around the corner, and it will not surprise you that I also appreciate "Portrait van de Selfkicker" very much. In short, I am once again impressed!
Ad 's-Gravesande

..."The byproduct of the Baars Buis Deman collaboration presents us with a chamber jazz ensemble with a compact marching band attitude, sprinkled with free improvisation magic dust.
The trio ranges from the clarinet exorcism of Baars "Jackdaw" to the lamentations of "Lounge des dames”. Just when you think Baars Buis Deman will zig, they zag".
Mark Corroto All About Jazz

The Netherlands is home to some musicians who have made a strong mark on the freer side of the jazz scene in recent years. We know Ab Baars from a number of exciting constellations, and he has long been a member of the Instant Composers Pool/Orchestra. He has also played extensively with Ig Henneman, among others. Trombonist Joost Buis has been an important voice in the free improvising jazz scene in Amsterdam since 1994, while tuba player Berlinde Deman is the least known of the three, but we have noticed her in the big band Flat Earth Society (FES). She has also played with Dave Douglas, among others, in a number of Dutch projects and as a theater musician.
We are served compositions, or improvisations, by Baars, but also a song by Rodgers & Hammerstein ("This Nearly Was Mine"), one by Guillaume de Machaut ("Louange des dames"), a song with lyrics by Johnny van Doom, performed by Baars ("Portret van de Selfkicker"), and a collective improvisation, all recorded live in the excellent Amsterdam club Bimhuis on April 30, 2023.
Baars plays clarinet and shakuhachi, and these instruments, together with trombone, tuba and serpent, create a distinctive and original sound. But that's not the most important thing about the music on this trio recording. It is the three musicians' brilliant ability to communicate, converse and improvise as a "collective group" that makes this an exciting experience. I have heard Baars a number of times in many different constellations. And every time I am impressed by his playing, and his ability to deliver exciting improvisations, almost no matter who he plays with. And with Buis and Deman as "conversation partners" on this release, we get exciting music from the first note to the last. And that he and Buis can "converse" in an exciting way, we heard on their duo album, Moods for Roswell, which was released in 2020. And with Deman, who we've only heard before with Flat Earth Society, they have the final element in the band that fills out and contributes to the (almost) perfect whole. Because her tuba playing is brilliant, and here I think her creative playing comes much better into its own than in FES.
This has become an exciting record within the freer landscape, although the treatment of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "This Nearly Was Mine" is recognizable, and can almost sound a little Ellingtonian at times, but with Buis' excellent trombone playing up front, it's as exciting as the rest. The three have added another exciting record to the pile of extremely interesting improvised music from the circle around the Instant Composers Pool in Amsterdam. And I hope that both Buis and Deman will be heard more often in such smaller contexts in the future. We know that we will have the pleasure of hearing Baars for many years to come.
I've recently been scolded for being a little too positive in my album reviews. But it's impossible to say anything negative about this freewheeling release. It's simply been a wonderful release!
Jan Granlie Salt Peanuts

The unconventional, chamber jazz, horns trio of Dutch clarinetist and shakuhachi player Ab Baars and trombonist Joost Buis (who collaborated before in Baars Quartet, Kinda Dukish, and as a duo, Moods For Roswell, Wig, 2005 and 2020) with Belgian tubaist and serpent player Berlinde Deman (known from the orchestra Flat Earth Society, the Secular Psalms project by American trumpeter Dave Douglas, and played in a duo with Buis), focuses on Baars’ compositions, with one standard by Rodgers & Hammerstein, one improvisation and another piece by medieval composer-poet Guillaume de Machau. The debut album of this trio was recorded live at Bimhuis in Amsterdam in April 2023.Baars’ compositions are whimsical, lyrical, crazy and unruly, as Guy Peters mentions in the liner notes, and highlight an eccentric humorous side of Baars. Barrs found perfect partners for such a spontaneous, festive and unpredictable musical journey that enjoys graceful and poetic movements and sudden feints, concise, free improvisations and only occasional flirts with the jazz legacy. The addition of the medieval serpent, a predecessor of the tuba, to the trio’s sonic palette adds a timeless quality to its performance.The interplay of this trio is conversational and often engages in heated and subversive arguments between three sonic acrobats who prefer walking on a tightrope rather than on solid ground. This inventive trio can also explore playfully an infinite range of timbres, from the lowest tuba sounds to the highest shakuhachi ones and everything in between (check «The Sky and the Sea» and «Faintly White» and the beautiful, dramatic and lyrical title piece) and adapts itself to the poetic, dadaist spirit off Wallace Stevens on «Kikiriki». Baars employs a like-minded joyful spirit in the adaption of Dutch poet Johnny van Doorn’s «Portret van de Selfkicker» (Portrait of the Selfkicker). Rodgers & Hammerstein’s ballad «This Nearly Was Mine» (from the movie South Pacific) received a contemplative and reserved arrangement and de Machau’s «Louange des dames» (Praise of the Ladies) closes the album with a touch of sober melancholia.We need more bands like this one, who can juggle perfectly and with poetic sensibility between composition and improvisation and rebel against all genre conventions.
Eyal Hareuveni Salt Peanuts