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Dutch theatricality meets American resourcefulness on this conclave from four like-minded musicians whose collective tastes veer to the freer end of the improvisational spectrum. As it turns out, shorthand sobriquets for the participants on the CD spine also work as a solid, semi-ambiguous band name. Live @ the Jazz Happening Tampere provides the site-specific particulars . The set divides neatly into five sections, the first four designated by the aforementioned abbreviations and the last answering to the Finnish locale where the fireworks were
As the lone strings purveyor, violist Ig Henneman resists the role of defacto “bassist”. Ab Baars and Ingrid Laubrock negotiate their modest assemblage of reeds, sharing the common ground of tenor but branching off to include clarinet in the case of the former and soprano in the latter’s corner. Baars also plays a bit of shakuhachi. Tom Rainey covers the court from his kit, but his role ranges far outside that of time-keeper and rhythmic engine almost immediately as he trades slanted and fractured rhythms with the chamber-like contrapuntal creations of his colleagues.
Both couples share matrimonial bonds between them that translate into an immediate intimacy of expression singular to each. Respecting these differences and divisions all four involve themselves fully in parsing out points of mutual musical ingress from the jump. “Perch” curiously conveys the feeling of a vintage Robert Altman script with four instrumental voices layering and conversing over each other, their individual lines of clearly discernable, but also merging into a gestalt-like whole. Laubrock and Baars take turns jousting with Henneman’s prickly, keyed up bow strokes as Rainey a dappled commentary with his sticks.
“Hen” opens with textured percussion, adding high arco harmonics from Henneman as Baars and Laubrock blow loose gusts from the edges on shakuhachi and soprano. The sum aural effect is akin to a derelict sampan listing in uneasy seas, its moist rigging creaking with the motion of the waves. Upper register chicanery forms the impetus for “Brock” as tandem tenors avoid their usual sonorities for a contest of intervallic ingenuity while “Rain” spotlights Henneman’s similar skill in coaxing precise paroxysms from his strings Laubrock and Baars supply surprisingly lyrical contrast on soprano and clarinet. Rich with rubato tones, “Tampere” is a comparative fragment in size, but serves well as a summarizing epilogue of the quartet’s shared success in consolidating sharply drawn personalities. - Derek Taylor...more