Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Sara Schoenbeck, Sara Schoenbeck, Free Improvisational Encounters for Bassoon


Karen Borca in her recordings with Jimmy Lyons and others first impressed me as a world class avant improvisational Jazz bassoonist. I still appreciate her pioneering style. Today there is someone happily new for me, another Free Jazz bassoonist with her own fleet and concentric power, one Sara Schoenbeck. Her self-titled album (Pyroclastic PR16) is recently out and I must say I am impressed.

She is a bassoonist with a robust, full throated tone, with excellent sound color control, limber delivery and inventive line weaving abilities. And with this ambitious album of chamber avant improv she shows herself to be an ideal improv partner who listens and adds just the right interaction to push the music forward, which is saying a great deal. And what an impressive and exciting roster of improv mates.

We are talking about drummer Harris Eisenstadt, flutist Nicole Mitchell, guitarist Nels Cline, saxophonist  Roscoe Mitchell, pianist  Matt Mitchell, bassist Mark Dresser, the keyboards and electronics of Wayne Horovitz, cellist Peggy Lee, and pianist vocalist Robin Holcomb.

I will not try to describe each of the nine duo interactions except to say they are vibrant, happily varied, contrasting and superlative. You come away with a real appreciation for Schoenbeck's artistry, imagination and happy collaborations without fail.

You might not at first blush think this a game changing album. But no, put it on a few times. It is excellent in all ways, whether you are a bassoon aficionado or just a music lover in search of new and good things. Sara makes me want to hear more, lots more. Hurrah!

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