When most couples get together, they play some tennis doubles, maybe card games, or go to dinner. When Ab Baars
and Ig Henneman
invite Ingrid Laubrock
and Tom Rainey
over, it's to do some cooking. By that I mean to serve up some improvised musical delights.
As with most busy couples, finding time for a get together must be difficult. Baars can be heard with the ICP Orchestra, in solo or in his trio and with Henneman, who has her own sextet. New York based Rainey and Laubrock produced two amazing duos for Relative Pitch Records, And Other Desert Towns
(2014) and Buoyancy
(2016), plus each lead several innovative ensembles.
This quartet's first tour together in 2014 yielded this live date from Finland. This intersection of the newer Dutch swing and post-Downtown New York sound evidences a newly refreshed improvised music. Not free jazz, nor exactly free improvisation, the five pieces make mannerly and urbane connections. It's difficult to define a leader for this quartet, maybe because so much is shared. "Brock" opens with Laubrock and Baars trading saxophone notes from the upper and lower registers until Rainey pushes the "go" button with his drumming. After a pause at the midway point, Henneman's viola signals a slower tempo and an abandonment of all aggression. She opens "Rain" with a high-wire performance that calls for the dancing sticks of Rainey, Baars' clarinet, and the bird-like calls of Laubrock's soprano saxophone. The music develops as a piece of chamber music albeit never abandoning the heated flames of improvisation.
Baars' shakuhachi playing is mystical on "Tampere" and "Hen," both pieces that gather momentum as improvised music, but coalesce as seemingly composed music. Such prestidigitation is evidence of music making at the highest levels.