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Ab Baars’ Fish-Scale Sunrise

Tuesday 23. October 2018 - 20:30

Ab Baars – Tenorsaxophon, Klarinette, Shakuhachi
Kaja Draksler – Piano
Joe Williamson – Bass

© Szymon Gąsiorek

Das nach einem Gedicht von Wallace Stevens benannte Trio Fish-Scale Sunrise des Niederländers Ab Baars bietet ein breites Spektrum für dessen Kompositionen und Improvisationen. Durch die Beteiligung eines Klaviers – zum ersten mal in einem Ab-Ensemble – werden neue Möglichkeiten eröffnet, die an die eines Orchesters heranreichen. Ein Schlagzeug fehlt, somit tritt die Musik aus dem Schatten des Jazz-Idioms und verleiht dem Bass eine prominentere Position.

Ab Baars’ trio Fish-Scale Sunrise, named after a poem by Wallace Stevens, signals a broadening spectrum of possibility for Baars’ composition and improvisation. Utilizing the piano, featured for the first time in an Ab ensemble, allows a new weight to nuances of timbre and dynamics as well as harmonic richness rivaling that of an orchestra. The drummerless setting draws the music out of the jazz idiom, giving the bass a unique place in the overall sound.

The ensemble performs original compositions by Baars alternated with free improvisations.

The pieces, specifically written for these musicians, are meant not to confine the artists to play in a certain way, but as a means of liberating their collective imagination. The interpretation of each player, filtering the stimuli through their own language, is as important to the composition as the material that is written on the page.

…the trio played nine songs and one free improvisation all with an impressive wealth of color; from sophisticated whisper moments to raw excesses, and from the broad reaches of modern classical to complete freedom in between, with frivolous jumps, rigorous twists and musical slopes…

… a very successful concert that displayed Baars’ unique style of playing and composing in a new light. The excellent company often sounded enthusiastic and confident, but just as often sketching and searching, intimate and emotionally charged.
-Guy Peters

Dutch reedist Ab Baars is a unique and prolific contributor to the European creative improvised music scene. His music has been characterized as joyfully obstinate, but surely appealing and as colorful as it is astonishing. It embodies the best typically Dutch improvised music has to offer. Although he seldom uses recognizable song forms or ongoing swing rhythms, the music stays catchy because it is stripped to the essence and clearly presented.
Baars is involved in a number of ensembles including the Ab Baars Trio, Duo Baars-Henneman and the ICP Orchestra. He is also an accomplished solo performer.


Kaja Draksler rose to international acclaim with her breathtaking solo recitals throughout Europe as well as the release of her debut solo album “The Lives of Many Others” on Clean Feed (2013). Stemming from Slovenia, she made her home in Amsterdam after studies at the Prins Claus Conservatorium in Groningen. Aside from possessing virtuosic technique and stellar listening capabilities, her studious nature has allowed her to glean a great understanding of jazz and “classical” form and harmony, with a healthy sense of folk music as a kicker. She is a gifted composer that is most apparent in her Octet which has been performing throughout Europe. Other ensembles of hers include Feecho, Duo Santos Silva/Draksler, to name just a few. Kaja is also highly regarded as a solo performer.

“Draksler brings austerity, subtlety, and poignancy with her fluid piano playing, and rings through in bright rich textures”.
Irish Times


A native of Vancouver, Canada, Joe Williamson has been living for extended periods in London, Berlin, Amsterdam and Stockholm and is well established and appreciated on the experimental scenes in all those major cities. A renaissance artist, he is an idiosyncratic bassist, guitarist, vocalist, composer, songwriter, painter, drawer, sculptor, wordsmith. His skills as a bassist, employing a dark woody sound and deep sense of time and space, have led him to play with, among others, Han Bennink, John Butcher, Rudi Mahall, Tony Buck, Tobias Delius.

‘Joe Williamson’s bass has a gloriously full sound, enveloping the listener as he bows out thick swathes of deepness’ (BBC).