Ab Baars Trio & Ken Vandermark
Goofy June Bug

[Stichting Wig, www.stichtingwig.com]

There's always an element of excitement when a guest is added to the line-up of a long-standing ensemble. Such is the case with Ab Baars augmenting his trio with reedman Ken Vandermark. Usual angular playing that is evident on most Ab Baars records now gains a champion of all-out, blow-your-guts-out improvisation in the form of Vandermark. He alone infuses the band's loose improvisations with a rallying cry. When he whips out his tenor sax and joins Baars for a duel blowing session on "Then He Whirled About", there's no stopping him. This is pure rage. Listen to the intensity as the squealing wind players attempt to out-do each other, while the sturdy rhythm section [bassist Wilbert de Joode and percussionist Martin van Duynhoven] keep a steady pace. Then, just a few minutes later, on "Memory Moves Forward", Vandermark switches to clarinet and Baars plays shakuhachi. Their mission here is to infuse the music with a certain sense of melody, while playing beautifully crafted subtle themes. The album ends on a high with "Lunch Poem". As Baars continues to play whisper quiet motifs on the shakuhachi, Vandermark graces the trio with subtly controlled, graceful tenor shifts. Going out with a whimper, rather than a cry makes all the sense in the world. "Goofy June Bug" is not goofy, but a serious exploration of two heavy weights on the scene of bold jazz.

  - Tom Sekowski

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