Yesca One

Travis Baker / Sara Schoenbeck

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Yesca One Review

by Fran├žois Couture

A duo session between bass and bassoon is not something you come across often. At first one could think Yesca One has to do with contemporary classical, but no, it has been released in Spool's improvisers series (the label also has a composers series). Bassoonist Sara Schoenbeck and bassist Travis Baker obviously have background in classical music. You can hear it in their phrasing, their pacing, and the way they develop their melodic material. Roughly half of the 11 pieces seem to be fully improvised. Three are Baker compositions; two more were derived from Ellen Burr's Card Composition System. Baker's "12341241" opens the album elegantly with a slightly mournful piece that has more to do with chamber music than improv. Schoenbeck displays an interesting multiphonics technique in "Cards #2." When they improvise, the two musicians show an impressive level of telepathy, varying dynamics in perfect synchronization ("When One"), but in some instances the music remains a bit cold and distant. Baker's compositions tend to lean more toward contemporary music and yet they feel more immediate, reaching a peak in the lyrical "Seven," the longest track at close to seven minutes. Yesca One clocks in at 39 minutes. Listeners could have taken more of this, yet it gives a nice first look at what these two can do -- and a rare glimpse at the bassoon in a free improv context.

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