The trio of Ab Baars, Meinard Kneer, and Bill Elgart obliges listeners to reflect on how they listen to freely improvised music, not in a concert setting where the listeners' attention is in effect captured, but the act of listening to a performance from recorded format. A fellow critic eschews records, saying that the experience is spurious and lacks the vitality of an in-person attestation. Does his philosophy cut off his nose (or ears) to spite his face? Proof of that affirmation is thrīe thrēo drī, a thoroughly captivating 72 minutes of music making.
From the instant one presses play, the sound seizes the ears. "Verticality" is an in-your-face assault, with Baars inflicting energy via his barking tenor saxophone, plus the pulled notes of German bassist Kneer and the quicksilver drums of Elgart. This trio began as a duo between Baars and Kneer, who released Windfall (Evil Rabbit Records, 2010), but grew into this trio with American-born Elgart, now living in Germany. The trio has released three previous recordings, two live and one studio session. This recording, also a studio session, might be the most captivating of all. Baars works through the music on tenor saxophone, clarinet and shakuhachi. His sound on clarinet ranges from the bubbly carbonation of "High Rider" to the razor-edged "A Day Like Any Other," and the flowing "Boulder Clay Movement No. 1." The latter piece, accented by Elgart's cymbals and stick, and Kneer's bowed bass, flows with a cinematographic grace. Baars' sound on shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute, traces the upper stratosphere on "Alternative Experimental Assembly X" and "Aerolith" with Kneer's bowed bass also breaking free of gravity and Elgart acting as the consummate colorist.
Verticality; High Rider; Boulder Clay Movement No. 1; The Duck Stays Between The Teeth;
Alternative Experimental Assembly X; A Day Like Any Other; All Other Forms Of Matter And Energy;