A Free Step: The Music of John Carter
Ab Baars was a student and colleague of John Carter from the late '80s until the great composer-clarinetist died in '91. Baars obviously learned some big lessons given the Amsterdam-based clarinetist-tenor saxophonist's excellent interpretations of 10 of Carter's most technically treacherous and deeply moving compositions on A Free Step. Baars' use of such Carter clarinet signatures as a piercing tone in the high register, skittering, largely chromatic runs and visceral overtones repeatedly bear an uncanny likeness to his mentor's. But Baars is clearly pursuing his own voice through this demanding, rewarding material; in this regard, his outings on tenor provide a necessary contrast. His colleagues are well-suited for the project: Wilbert de Joode is a powerful bass player, whose work is often strongly felt before the notes are fully articulated in the mind; and Martin van Duynhoven is a solid ensemble player who pushes the music with shrewd cross rhythms. They are a trio that does justice to the music of John Carter.