Baars – Kneer – Elgart’s Live At Konfrontationen Nickelsdorf 2012 (2018) Evil Rabbit Records with Ab Baars, Meinrad Kneer, and Bill Elgart

In 2018, Baars – Kneer – Elgart released Live At Konfrontationen Nickelsdorf 2012 on Evil Rabbit Records, featuring Ab Baars on tenor saxophone, clarinet, and shakuhachi, Meinrad Kneer on double bass, and Bill Elgart on drums.

Baars – Kneer – Elgart – Live at Konfrontationen Nickelsdorf 2012 (2018) Evil Rabbit Records

The trio’s second album consists of a pair of extended pieces: “Nickelsdorf Suite #1,” in three parts, and “Nickelsdorf Suite #2,” in two parts, and a shorter composition, “Nickelsdorf Fantasia.” The three principals share co-writing credit of the free jazz improvisations.

image of Baars-Kneer-Elgart - Live At Konfrontationen Nickelsdorf 2012 (2018) Evil Rabbit Records CD insert
Baars – Kneer – Elgart – Live At Konfrontationen Nickelsdorf 2012 (2018) Evil Rabbit Records CD insert

The album, recorded live by Michael W. Huon on 22 July 2012 at Konfrontationen, Nickelsdorf in Austria, was mixed and mastered by Huon at Studio Odéon 120 in Brussels, Belgium.

In a 5 December 2018 review on freejazzblog.org, Eyal Hareuveni comments:

The performance at the Konfrontationen festival allowed this trio to stretch out the format of short pieces that appeared on the Baars – Kneer album or the trio studio album… all emphasize the physical and intense, confrontational element of such a truly spontaneous meeting. These distinct, resourceful improvisers know how to play – literally – with all aspects of free-improvisation, often simultaneously. The trio moves instantly and organically between sketching a loose structure and then, alone or together, deconstructs it; builds the tension and immediately releases it; stresses muscular attacks but also highlights a more subtle, fragile and sometimes even a lyrical vein; searches for surprising variations of timbres and new sounds – especially Baars who … always alternates between consensus, dissent and echo.” 

Ab Baars, Meinrad Kneer, and Bill Elgart perform at Konfrontationen Nickelsdorf in Austria on 22 July 2012 (photo by Kirche)

Hareuveni concludes: “This trio has become a powerful lab for free-improvisation strategies. It refuses to settle in any strict form or dynamics, but attempts to invent and reinvent itself anew again and again while keeping a playful flow, despite its fast-shifting, confrontational approach.”

An excerpt of the performance featuring Ab Baars on tenor saxophone, Meinrad Kneer on double bass, and Bill Elgart on drums is on YouTube:

Besides this live album, Ab Baars, Meinrad Kneer, and Bill Elgart have made two studio albums, No Quarter, released in CD and digital download in 2013 on Evil Rabbit Records, and their latest, Thrīe Thrēo Drī, that came out in both formats in 2021 on the Jazzwerkstatt label. A feature profile of the former is on this site under Albums.

Baars – Kneer – Elgart – Live At Konfrontationen Nickelsdorf 2012 (2018) Evil Rabbit Records outer cover

Live At Konfrontationen Nickelsdorf 2012 is now available on CD from select brick and mortar record shops as well as online. The album is also available as a digital download from Bandcamp. Additionally, both formats can be obtained directly from Evil Rabbit Records.

Baars – Kneer – Elgart – Live At Konfrontationen Nickelsdorf 2012 (2018) Evil Rabbit Records back cover

As there are not any additional tracks or excerpts from the Live At Konfrontationen Nickelsdorf 2012 album currently available online, a video for the title track of their debut album recorded in 2011 is shared below:

Trio Formed in Amsterdam in 2010

Ab Baars, Meinrad Kneer, and Bill Elgart have been playing together as a trio for more than a dozen years. Baars and Kneer first met many years earlier in the small clubs of Amsterdam, where both gravitated to a city long known as a hotspot for improvisational jazz. In 2008, the duo recorded their Windfall album, released two years later. The duo became a trio in 2010 when Bill Elgart sat in as a guest drummer at a show at the Amsterdam Bimhuis.

Meinrad Kneer, Bill Elgart, and Ab Baars at the SJU Jazz Podium, Utrecht, Netherlands in 2010 (photo by Fred van Wulften)

In 2011, the new trio toured the Netherlands, Austria, and Germany, culminating with the recording of their first album, No Quarter, at Sound Balance Studio in Foxhol, Netherlands.

ab-baars-meinrad-kneer-and-bill-elgart-give-no-quarter-2013-evil-rabbit-records-netherlands-err-20 - cover
Baars – Kneer – Elgart – Give No Quarter (2013) Evil Rabbit Records

In fact, this was the second recording made by Bill Elgart and Meinrad Kneer together as they joined Jan Klare and Jeff Platz on the 2011 album, Modern Primitive, also released on Dutch label Evil Rabbit Records. The idea for the Modern Primitive album can be traced back to guitarist Jeff Platz and Jan Klare, who plays the alto saxophone, clarinet, and flute. The two musicians had worked together previously and then attended a free improv jazz series in the Netherlands organized by Meinrad Kneer.

Klare - Platz - Kneer - Elgart - Modern Primitive (2011) Evil Rabbit Records
Klare – Platz – Kneer – Elgart – Modern Primitive (2011) Evil Rabbit Records

Later, Meinrad Kneer recalls that Jan Klare invited him to perform together at several gigs in Munster; and Jeff Platz and Kneer did a short tour in the eastern part of Germany. Once Kneer and Bill Elgart started playing together, “the idea of coming together in this quartet was born.” Kneer adds, “If I remember correctly, we had a series of three concerts set up and the third one was recorded live at a Bielefeld venue, Bunker Ulmenwall.”

Klare – Platz – Kneer – Elgart’s “Meat Dress,” the third track on Modern Primitive, is on YouTube:

Baars – Kneer – Elgart in 2020s

A decade after making their first album, Ab Baars, Meinrad Kneer, and Bill Elgart entered Berlinaudio to cut their second studio effort, Thrīe Thrēo Drī. The January 2021 album, produced by Kneer, was recorded and mixed by Christian Betz.

Baars – Kneer – Elgart – Thrīe Thrēo Drī (2021) Jazzwerkstatt

This correspondent plans to take a closer look at the trio’s newest effort in the near future. Until that time, the most recent Baars – Kneer – Elgart concert video currently found online, made the same year, is located below.

Ab Baars, Meinrad Kneer, and Bill Elgart at Glad House, Cottbus, Germany in 2021 (photo by Ingrid Hoberg)

On 19 December, 2021, Baars – Kneer – Elgart played live at Industriesalon Schöneweide, in Berlin. Video of this performance by Christian Betz, featuring Ab Baars on tenor saxophone and clarinet, Meinrad Kneer on double bass, and Bill Elgart on drums, is online–the show was made possible by Initiative Musik GmbH, with project funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media, and a special nod to Wolf “Ass” Glöde and Jazzkeller69 Berlin:

As 2023 approaches, Baars – Kneer – Elgart continue to appear regularly at clubs and festivals around Germany and nearby countries. For the latest concert information, please see the trio’s new website, https://baars-kneer-elgart.eu.

Author: Formosa Coweater

writer based in the Pacific Rim

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