Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ig Henneman Sextet - Cut a Caper [Wig]

Ig Henneman - viola, compositions
Ab Baars - tenor sax, clarinet, shakuhachi
Axel Dorner - trumpet
Lori Freedman - bass clarinet, clarinet
Wilbert De Joode - double bass
Marilyn Lerner - piano

Stichting Wig 2011

Just a quick glance on the names list can tell you this group gathers some among the finest improvising musicians in Europe. And this geographical association is crucial for this music as this drumless sextet presents music that is european through and through. With rich harmonies and lyrical melodies rooted deep in classical music. With improvisations being the extension of this language while reaching into the territory of sound's detail exploration. With precise arrangement that makes this ensemble sound like a small yet fully-equipped orchestra.

Interlayering avant-guarde free improvisation with modern chamber composition is obviously not a new idea, yet I can hardly think of any more succesfull efforts in the area. The cd begins with the ominous , monumental walk in the "Moot" that ends with charming childish melody played by piano. The almost playfull orchestration of a rhythmic line in "Light Verse" follows. Then there's mysterious and misty "Rivulet". The call and response choir in "Narration". And the sharp staccato melodies that cross each other in feverish "Fervid". The minimalistic and spare "A far cry" ends the album, the juxtaposition to orchestral tutti of the previous pieces.
Each track made more precious through kathartically virtuosive solos like the thunderous piano by Marilyn Lerner in "Fervid". Cutting edge viola by Ig Henneman in "Moot". Roaring and whirling trumpet sounds courtesy of Axel Dorner in "Light Verse" or just  the noise of breathing in and out in "Cut a Caper"'s intro. Raw Ab Baars' tenor saxophone in rhythmic "Brain and Body". 
The playing is absolutely excellent and it fully supports and extends the composition's form. And Ig Henneman's writing is truly exceptional - just listen to the title track, the way the instruments gradually join the melodic theme, the way its harmonically expanded, the way the rhythms and timbres mix perfectly. I can only think of Stan Kenton and Gil Evans capable of such detailed, masterfull arrangements yet I'm looking in the wrong genre of music (Stravinsky maybe would be a better guess? Moments like this I'd like to be better educated in classical music).
Ig Henneman with her music and her band managed to merge the reality of improvisation and composition within the language of european music. In fact this work resolves more of such dichotomies : the raw sound and polished melody (which could be also associated with the male-female equilibrium in the band), the ego-the group (with stellar performances enhancing the image of the entire band). Finally the intellect and passion as neither of those can be exclusively attached to just the element of improvisation or compostion - instead they coexist in both as challenging and emotionally evocative they are. Truly a "Brain and Body" music filled with moments of intense beauty. Some of the most inspiring work I've heard this year.

Two tracks from the cd are presented in this playlist here


  1. Thanks for posting this. I like the way you describe the music; it is a great band indeed (also two Canadians in the band!), and my writing fitted the band for sure Only in december 10, we play again at the Total Music Meeting in Tours. Maybe also in Paris.. Looking forward!
    Do you know Ab Baars is coming to Krakov Alchemia with his trio&NY guests? It will be on wednesday November 16.
    see also our website www.stichtingwig.com
    Best regards
    Ig Henneman

  2. My pleasure. I sure do know about the Ab's concert in Krakow. Waiting impatiently for it.
    best regards


It feels great when someone's reading what I'm writing! Please leave a comment if there's anything on Your mind concerning the post (or other subjects) and come back soon.