Tenor saxophonist Ab Baars arguably exemplifies why jazz has remained alive and well in its European incarnation while the majority of Americans mistakenly view it as an embalmed art form. A veteran of the Dutch jazz community who first came to prominence over 25 years ago as a member of Hollands rowdy, anarchistic ICP Orchestra, Baars and his trio standup bassist Wilbert de Joode and Martin van Duynhoven can certainly summon their share of chaos but, at times, display a considerably more subdued temperament. With his forward-thinking style, Baars music isnt necessarily an easy listen, but he and his bandmates are masters at toying with the relationship between refinement and abrasion. They also blur the hard distinction between free and traditional playing, landing on various points in between rather than treating the two approaches as distinct polar opposites. By turns, their work together can sound abstract, cacophonous, somber, peaceful, and whimsical sometimes within the same piece or even the same phrase. Special guest Ken Vandermark, a critically acclaimed Boston transplant who now lives in Chicago, brings his own brand of tenor firepower, as well as a next-generations perspective, to the colorful mix.
Fri., April 3, 8 p.m., 2009