|Jazzism.nl - 4 1/2 stars out of 5!
(The CD received 4,5 stars, 5 is the maximum.) Bob Anram and Philip Baumgarten: chances are you've never heard of them. Anram plays tenor sax and Baumgarten upright bass. Who cooks up the idea to fill a complete CD with such a duo, without drums or piano, with such unknown musicians? Add to this the fact that the whole project started within five minutes, the musicians didn't rehearse at all and this CD is filled with a spontaneous improvisation of about 40 minutes, in which we hear vaguely known harmonies and blues. These seem to be ingredients for a miserable product, but the contrary is true. This is an absolutely stunning CD with beautiful music, that has been magnificently recorded. Anram is a New Yorker who has been influenced by Bud Freeman en has his light touch, but who sounds much more modern with his lighter vibrato, and who adds a portion of Rollins to his playing. Baumgarten is a bass player with fingers of steel, who makes every note he plays sound transparent and resonating. After some research I found out he's from New York, but lives in Groningen. The music on this CD is intense, spontaneous, creative and original, and not boring for a second, as if the two musicians were melted into one body. Who is going to make this duo play on the Dutch podia?
|www.jazzflits.nl (Hollands most important digital jazz magazine)
Bob Anram on tenor saxophone and Philip Baumgarten on double bass. Two musicians who meet each other, unpack and tune their instruments and start to play. Playing without knowing what will happen, without having agreed upon a plan and without preconceived arrangements. Steve Pagano writes: 'The interesting thing about the session you are listening to, is that it was recorded within five minutes of Bob and Philip meeting face to face for the first time. The music was unrehearsed, spontaneous, and for me, is symbolic of the essence of great jazz.' The special way this encounter came about are by no means a guarantee for a good result of course. You need talented musicians for that who are prepared to, as Bob Anram says so pointedly, 'breathe in tandem'. Then what you get is an unparalleled result that keeps you listening in depth from the beginning till the end. In the tradition of Bebop and Cool Jazz we hear six duets and two solo pieces ('Maja' by Baumgarten and 'Don't look up' by Anram), played with drive, tightness and played lyrically and passionately. The special thing about this recording is that you get the feeling the musicians are playing in your sitting room, that you can literally hear them breathing as a tandem. 'The hurricane Session 2008' is a classic, timeless and very inspiring example of everything Jazz should be about. Or of the art of improvisation, that unveils the mystery of music, while continuing it at the same time.
Frank Huser, Jazzflits
Simplicity is an asset for a musician
It’s old American grooving jazz from a contemporary source: Philip Baumgarten and Bob Anram. For students of the bass and saxophone, this should be a welcome CD. ‘Don’t look up’ for instance is a sax lesson in how to play grooving licks on the saxophone. It is followed by the easy, warm ‘Blues for Dee’.
Philip demonstrates how to play bass with his sober and natural approach. He directs and improvises, is creative and decidedly not lazy. He has a full, fleshy tone. It sounds like he’s playing in a small jazz club with a wooden floor. These men are fully concentrated and you can hear they’re full of life. This is their world, this is the music they study. These masters play kind notes that form understandable melodies. They seem to dance to each others music in their thinking. Their oneness becomes visible, as an old masterpiece does when it is restored.
The titles of the pieces are great, like ‘Trane Dance’, ‘Google in The Frog’, and ‘Maja’, the only piece by Philip Baumgarten. It is simple and artful. The other compositions are by Bob Anram.
Philip’s encounter with American Bob Anram is a huge success. Steve Pagano, owner of the Spock Studio, thinks so to and he is enthusiastic about this event. Hence this recording.
(Jan Klupper / Muziekpodia)
De bassist (Dutch bass magazine)
Two men come together in a recording studio. They've never met before, but they respect each other a lot. After a short conversation they start to play and within five minutes something special happens. It must be the dream of every recording engineer - but a nightmare at the same time: the spontaneity and power of the moment must be recorded instantaneously! Steve Pagano Jr. and Sr. had the difficult task of recording this music as quickly as they could and luckily they were in time to catch the magic. But this is about the players: tenor saxophone player Bob Anram invited Dutch Philip Baumgarten to come to New York and while Hannah blew over the city, Anram tried to transform the hurricane into a cool breeze. The basis of this CD is cool jazz and bebop, but these gentlemen look in every corner to see if they can find a way there that leads to more. Sometimes they find that way with surprising results, sometimes the keep playing a delicious groove for a while. Sometimes this CD sounds like a master class saxophone playing and Anram plays complicated melodies, but it always sounds like it's happening right next to you. The recording is beautiful and clear, and the CD has been mastered so expertly that it sounds as if Philip and Bob are standing in your living room. The CD has been out for some time now and reactions from all over the world are pouring in. People are starting to say this is a classic recording and we agree totally, for this is a beautiful CD of jazz as it should be.
Despite being a bit out of sorts lately, I had to put your CD in and give it the attention I knew it deserved the minute it came in the mail.
A lot of free flowing words of praise follow:
It is earth shatteringly brilliant, nothing less grandiose a statement can accurately describe it. It blows my mind that a artist of your caliber, and we are talking Parker/Coltrane/Young and beyond here-believe it, isn't a household name. This goes with the era born, nothing else. Had you been born a few decades earlier, your worldwide recognition would have been secured without any doubt in my mind. The light your playing broadcasts really shows many of the supposed masters of the past in a sad state of mediocrity by comparison.
As it stands, I want to see you receive even a portion of the exposure and praise that you deserve. There was never a moment during any of the performances when you were at all detached or on "auto pilot". I can't say that of any but literally a handful of 5 or less of the greats on any given recording. You never took the easy way out, or resorted to any hackneyed clichés. However, you perfectly captured with elegance (and elegance is at the heart of it) all that is sublimely wonderful about the old lions, bettering them at every turn in fact. The album is full of life and freshness while including homage to generations of the best. You glide effortless through so many decades and styles without making it an obviously "conscious" point to do so. That is pure class, and remarkable skill at play there. Technically and intellectually.
The whole CD felt seamlessly as though each tune was a masterful first take. I don't know how many takes were in fact necessary, but it was never over edited or disturbingly "slick". The recordings had all the qualities of those from the golden era before overproduction of albums took all the life and spontaneity out of things. In fact, it reminded me of what those legendary late night cutting/jams sessions a la Kansas City must have been like. When masterful solos were woven as long as the performer could channel ideas to fruitful completion.Philip was a wonderful partner with this project. Both of you not only play brilliantly off of one another's ideas, but never is there a clash of egos, styles, or a disconnect that one often hears with lessor artists/ and pairings. The use of just a Bass for accompaniment was not only a delight, it was a gutsy move. Only the very best can succeed when put on the spot stripped down like that. Not only was it momentous, it lacked nothing at the expense of the beautiful, intimate simplicity of it.
You both show the rare quality of knowing as much what NOT to play as what to elaborate upon. This is something that is usually only found in sufficient quantity with artists who have had enough years of experience to grasp that elusive quality, let alone how to affect it. There was so much of Young and at times Coltrane, Dexter, Byas to be heard in your playing, but I can't stress enough, never a time when it was cliché, mimicking, or banal as I hear so often in others who find inspiration in those masters. I realize that you have much respect for several of Young's disciples, namely Getz and possibly Sims, but I must STRESS to you Bob, you are so far ahead of them it is astounding.
They were, at the end of the day, very much imitators of Prez, but never quite equal. You take the best elements of those players, the things that are so endearing and hip, but to another level entirely.To put it another way, you are mercifully free of the aping aspect one hears in just about every other player out there, especially today. Whatever elusive ingredients it takes to make an improviser/composer in the esteemed company of Bird, Young, etc. that is so rarely found, you have it ten fold. I know you work your butt off, and boy oh boy does it show, however you have a genius and intellect as they did to take it into the stratosphere. You display a quality I crave and adore, the ability to take complete command of your improve with all available, hard earned resources, and never resort to tired repetition of the same old, same old. Bird had that kind of authority, and so do you.
I consider myself so lucky to know you and your work, and am always as excited to hear your playing as the first time I heard the other greats in the history of this wonderful musical language that is Jazz.
In short, I would count this on my top 5 greatest recordings of all time, it's that momentous and equally important, profound, to listen to. You wrap up into one package, everything that is superlative about great music, and specifically great Jazz. I want the world to know about you and your work, because I'd hate for them to be deprived of such stellar quality and rare, one in a million talents simply because we live in a era dominated by uninspired Rap and purely Pop offerings. I have not a doubt in my mind that an entire course of university study could, and should, be devoted to studying your recordings, improve, technical and otherwise.
Speaking of technical, I wanted to comment on what a lovely low end tone you are getting from your synthetic reeds. I mention this because this is the real Achilles heel with synthetic reeds, especially Tenor IMO. You have none of the usual, associated issues it is obvious. Your ability to really juice with seemingly no effort, a wide dynamic range from them is inspiring as well. Pianissimo isn't usually their strong point.
I can't thank you enough for the opportunity to enjoy your enormous talent and ability. I really don't get caught up in cult of personality with the usual suspects, but you are a super star in the field of things that really matter to me, and I am richer as a music devotee and saxophone player for knowing you and having you as my good friend.
Is your record label actively pushing sales and promotion of this MUST HAVE recording, and is there anything that we can do on SOTW to help in this endeavor. Nothing of this caliber has come along in decades in my experienced opinion, and I KNOW that each and every member would be truly humbled and blown away by your album.
This has really lifted my spirits, and although I'm never going to be anywhere near your mastery, I have been inspired to pick the horn back up after about a month away. I don't feel too bad about my shortcomings, as I can assure you that none who profess to play the sax in my world on SOTW can hold a candle to your genius and the total package that you offer.
Not many who have gone before you have achieved your heights either. Shows what you can do when you ACTUALLY practice more than a couple hours a day, huh!
You should be immensely proud of this masterpiece.
Thank you my friend, my inspiration.
The tenor-bass duets of Bob Anram and Philip Baumgarten are full of close communication, spontaneity, melodic development, and a cool fire. While based in bebop and cool jazz, the musicians are not shy to stretch themselves in freer explorations and they manage to be both subtle and unpredictable at the same time. This is stimulating and fun music.
Scott Yanow, Author of ten books including Bebop and The Jazz Singers