Ab Baars

Verderame

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AllMusic Review by

Netherlands reed king Ab Baars has played with everyone from Guus Janssen to Franz Koglmann and led his own wonderfully playful avant quartet. But Verderame marks his first outing unaccompanied and takes an unusual understated tack. Over the course of nine originals -- many of them tributes to friends and inspirations -- and a gorgeous reworking of Billy Strayhorn's "Lotus Blossom," Baars offers a wonderfully personal album of warm reflections, tender microtonal explorations, and quick-witted charm. His homage to Sonny Rollins on "Rollins Williamsburg Bridge" is a tenorman's dream, full of angular busts of melodic energy and long, lonely single notes played with empathy and grace. On his homage to John Carter in the middle of the album, Baars takes Carter's sidewinding approach to arpeggios and comes up with a tonal study in scalar equanimity, painting the color palette with the blues and African folk traces amid the tonal squeaks and squawks. His pieces for both Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink are almost the opposites of the previous two, full of humor and strange acrobatics as well as quick bursts of frenetic energy that touch on jazz tradition while mutating, spindling, and mutilating it through that particular European gaze. This is as good a solo reed album as you're going to find anywhere.

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