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Ab Baars


21-02-1955 - current


baritonsaxofoon, componist, improvised, jazz, klarinet, sopraansaxofoon, tenorsaxofoon

Ab Baars

Saxophonist-clarinetist Ab Baars (Magrette, Zeeuws Vlaanderen, 21 November 1955) is a mainstay in a number of important groups from the Dutch improvisation scene, like the Guus Janssen Septet, the Theo Loevendie Quintet, the Instant Composers Pool, the Corkestra and ensembles led by his partner, violist-composer Ig Henneman. The Ab Baars ...
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baritonsaxofoon, componist, klarinet, sopraansaxofoon, tenorsaxofoon

Mentioned in the biography of

1980   Jan Cees Tans
1980   Wolter Wierbos
1982   Misha Mengelberg
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Biography Ab Baars

Saxophonist-clarinetist Ab Baars (Magrette, Zeeuws Vlaanderen, 21 November 1955) is a mainstay in a number of important groups from the Dutch improvisation scene, like the Guus Janssen Septet, the Theo Loevendie Quintet, the Instant Composers Pool, the Corkestra and ensembles led by his partner, violist-composer Ig Henneman. The Ab Baars Trio is the main outlet for his work as a band leader and composer. Although he initially plays the soprano and baritone saxophones as well, he concentrates on the tenor saxophone and clarinet. For the latter instrument he consults the American clarinetist John Carter, who helps him to fully master the instrument, and to further develop his idiosyncratic sound. Tonal color and solo structuring are the two main weapons in his musical arsenal. He therefore has a preference for horn players exploring the extremes of tuning and coloring, like the American saxophonists Von Freeman and Albert Ayler. Since a number of years Baars has added the Japanese bamboo flute shakuhachi to his instruments, and has sought specialists to coach him in learning to play it.

Played in

Ab & Terrie   saxofoon
Bunker Sextet   klarinet, saxofoon
Contraband   klarinet, sopraansaxofoon, tenorsaxofoon
Groep Ohm   tenorsaxofoon
Instant Composers Pool   klarinet, tenorsaxofoon
Orkest de Volharding   saxofoon

1970 - 1975

An uncle gives Ab Baars a tenor saxophone as a present, in a high tuning. When he wants to play pop music in his hometown Eindhoven, he finds out that his saxophone is 'out of tune'. He buys a new instrument and starts playing in various local bands, including the Flying Spiderz. He also becomes a member of the symphonic wind band Philips Harmonie. He discovers jazz and starts taking workshops with bassist Niko Langenhuijsen. In 1975 the workshop leader includes him in the extended sextet version of his Groep Ohm, which is awarded the Wessel Ilcken Prijs (the major Dutch jazz award at the time) in the same year. Baars also makes his recording debut with the Ohm Sextet.

1976 - 1983

Baars starts studying at the Rotterdam Conservatory with Leo van Oostrom and immerses himself in the local improvisation scene. He follows workshops with cornetist Butch Morris, becomes a member of the Bunkersextet, and is one of the founding members of the group Cumulus. With one of his cohorts there, saxophonist and flutist Mariëtte Rouppe van der Voort, he strikes up a musical partnership that will stretch over the next few decades. It is through her that he ends up playing contemporary classical music in Orkest De Volharding. Theo Loevendie hears him playing there and invites him to join his Consort. When Loevendie forms a new quintet in 1983 with the rhythm section of his older quartet (bassist Arnold Dooyeweerd and drummer Martin van Duynhoven), he gets two young horn players on board: trombonist Wolter Wierbos and Ab Baars. The group records one LP for the VARAJazz label in 1985.

Bunker Sextet


Baars records his debut album as a leader for the Data label: Carroussel. On this he plays unaccompanied solos as well as duos and trios with Mariëtte Rouppe van der Voort and pianist Guus Janssen (under the name Trebbel). The pianist includes Baars in his septet, which records an eponymous LP for the Claxon label later that year. Baars is also featured on Guus Janssen's LP '85….86' (1986) and his CD Dancing Series (1988).


Ab Baars joins tenor saxophonist JC Tans's Rockets (later rechristened JC Tans Orchestra) on clarinet and baritone saxophone. He records two albums with the band: Dance of the Tadpoles and Around the World.


Misha Mengelberg asks Ab Baars to replace Paul Termos in the Instant Composers Pool Orchestra. A quarter of a century later the reed player is still one of the mainstays of the ensemble. Mengelberg is the originator of the famous description of Baars's style of playing: 'Ab music.' Bassist Maarten Altena also enlists Baars's services. His arrival turns the Maarten Altena Octet into nonet, which records the LP Quick Step.


The Amsterdam Bimhuis's artistic director, Huub van Riel, invites Ab Baars for the international October Meeting for improvisers. Baars is also on the roster for the second edition in 1991.


A grant from the Dutch Ministry of Culture allows Baars to study with clarinetist John Carter in Los Angeles, whom he admires very much. Until then the Dutchman has been playing 'tenor saxophone on the clarinet' (as he puts it himself), and he truly wants to master the instrument. When Baars is awarded the Boy Edgar Prijs (the major Dutch jazz award) in the same year, Carter is the guest of honor at the award ceremony at the Bimhuis. On this occasion Baars also premieres his new Tentet. Krang is the reed player's first (unaccompanied) solo CD. Later Verderame (1997) and Time to Do My Lions (2010) will follow. For the double album Joggers & Smoggers the improv punk band The Ex surrounds itself with various improvisers, including trombonist Wolter Wierbos and Ab Baars. The reed player will regularly return as a guest with the outfit, and in 2000 he records the duo CD Hef with Terrie Ex, the group's guitarist.


The Ab Baars Trio starts its life, with bassist Wilbert de Joode and drummer Martin van Duynhoven as its members. The band's debut album, released by the Geestgronden label in 1992, is called 3900 Carol Court. It is the address of his teacher John Carter, who passed away earlier that year. The CD contains mainly original compositions by Baars. A Free Step, recorded seven years later, is solely devoted to Carter's music.


Pianist Michiel Scheen, one of the founders of the group Kenvermogen, invites Baars to play the clarinet in the extended, 15 piece line-up of the ensemble, which records an eponymous debut album a year later. Baars is also the horn player in the new quartet which Scheen forms in 2003, and produces the CD Dance, My Dear?


The Ab Baars Trio tours with the American soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy as its guest. For later tours Baars invites trombonist Roswell Rudd (1996 and 1998) and reed player Ken Vandermark (2007 and 2009) as guests with his trio. Baars's partner, violist-composer Ig Henneman, includes him in her Tentet. In 1999 the two form a duo, which makes its recording debut in 2006: Stof.

Ig Henneman


Ab Baars performs at the festival Improvisaties/'Improvisaties' with shakuhachi player Yoshikazu Iwamoto and the contemporary classical Nieuw Ensemble, conducted by Butch Morris.


Songs is the title of a program in which the Ab Baars Trio explores the music of native Americans. The project is recorded, and a CD is released in 2001.


Ilse van de Kasteelen and Han Buhrs are the Ab Baars Trio's vocal guests for the program De Boksers. It concerns itself with the art of pugilism, both in compositions and improvisations.


Pianist Cor Fuhler includes Ab Baars, who already played a role in his chamber music-like group Carduelis Carduelis, in his medium-sized Corkestra. The nonet's eponymous debut album is released by Data Records. Baars's ongoing duo with Mariëtte Rouppe van de Voort records the CD Veer & Haul in 2003.


With trombonist Joost Buis as a special guest the Ab Baars Trio performs its take on Duke Ellington's music, under the title Kinda Dukish. A CD with the same title is released one year later on the Wig label.


During a tour of Japan Ab Baars buys a shakuhachi, the classical Japanese bamboo flute. He decides he wants to master the instrument properly, and takes lessons from Kees Kort, Christopher Blasdel and Takeo Yamashiro.


After a tasty meal at the Bimhuis Ab Baars, Ig Henneman and Misha Mengelberg record a trio CD with improvisations, named after the dish the three of them ate: Sliptong (the Dutch name for undersized sole). In the same year Evil Rabbit Records releases a duo CD by Ab Baars and bassist Meinrad Kneer. Henneman and Baars start the trio Floating Worlds with the Japanese koto player Michiyo Yagi, exploring the boundaries of Western and Japanese improvisation.


On the occasion of her 25th anniversary as a bandleader (and of her 65th birthday) Ig Henneman forms a new sextet, with Ab Baars as one of its members. In 2011 the group makes its recording debut: Cut A Caper.


American singer Fay Victor and French horn player Vincent Chancey are the guests with the Ab Baars Trio for the program The Invisible Blow, compiled in collaboration with Dutch poetess Anneke Brassinga. In addition to her own poetry she and Baars chose texts by William Carlos Williams, Hans Faverey, Charles Bukowski, Seamus Heaney, W.B. Yeats and Emily Dickinson.

Discography Ab Baars

In the discography you will find all recordings that have been released listed chronologically. We restrict ourselves to the title, the type of audio, year of publication or recording, label, list of guest musicians, plus any comments on the issue.

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