Ab Baars / Ab Baars Trio

Party at the Bimhuis

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To commemorate his ten years with bassist Wilbert de Joode and drummer Martin van Duynhoven, an almost unheard-of tenure for a jazz trio, Ab Baars celebrated where every good Dutch avant-gardist celebrates -- the famed Bimhuis club in Amsterdam. Inviting a quartet of guests, including renowned pianist Misha Mengelberg, the results were dutifully recorded with a tongue-in-cheek, blow-by-blow description by Kevin Whitehead in the liners. Highlights abound, including a ruggedly disjointed quartet version of Monk's "Reflections," with Misha Mengelberg added on piano, and a majestic interpretation of John Carter's "Enter from the East" performed by the septet and featuring the lonely, astringent strings of Ig Henneman. Baars' bittersweet offerings on clarinet are in full display on the opening "3900 Carol Court," where split tones and intervallic leaps combine with dramatic changes in volume to produce a prime example of his trio leadership. Two tributes are especially noteworthy. On "A Portrait of Roswell Rudd," the seven-piece ensemble is sans brass, with improvisations performed, curiously and hauntingly, by the two pianists, Mengelberg and Guus Janssen, while Baars' clarinet shadows mysteriously. The more exuberant "Von," based on the phrasing of Chicago tenorist, Von Freeman, opens with some wily drum work from Martin van Duynhoven, followed by the sprightly melodic line and leading to a raucous, un-Freeman-like solo by Mariette Rouppe van der Voort and an inspired, though less intense contribution from Henneman's viola. Interspersed among the composed tunes are three "Party Talks" -- off-the-cuff banter among close friends -- each with slightly varied personnel. In all, a fitting, understated, though very Baars-like way to remember a decade of good years while anticipating more to come.

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