Reviews that mention Chris Abelen

November 28, 2005

Chris Abelen


Lucas Niggli Zoom Ensemble



By Ken Waxman

Be careful when you count the number of musicians on these sessions. For while Space may seem to be by a 10-piece band and Sweat by a 12-piece one, each disc actually features an established improv combo expanded with the members of a contemporary chamber ensemble plus one additional idiosyncratic soloist.

As a consequence of these expansions, the composer/ band leader of each disc – Dutch trombonist Chris Abelen on Space and Swiss percussionist Lucas Niggli on Sweat – have a fuller palate of textures, colors, pitches and rhythms available. Both CDs are memorable, although Sweat has a slight edge. The cause may be that it’s a studio session, whereas Space was recorded live. Or it may be that Ensemble Neue Musik Zürich (ENMZ) is a closer fit with the drummer’s Zoom Ensemble plus British soundsinger Phil Minton, then the Zapp! String Quartet is with the trombonist’s quintet and special guest, clarinetist Ab Baars. MORE

February 17, 2003


Bvhaast CD 0202

There’s something -- and hope it isn’t economics -- which finds so many outstanding performances by improvisers from the Netherlands, organized around “little” big bands. Sure, smaller and larger combinations turn out memorable work, but when exceptional Dutch improv first comes to mind so do Misha Mengelberg’s ICP Orchestra, Willem Breuker Kollektief’s and, more recently Michael Braam’s Bik Bent Braam and the ensembles led by Martin Fondse.

Since so many of these bands are the vision of one person, writing and arranging for 10 to 12 players allows room for Holland’s idiosyncratic soloists, with just enough musical heft on tap to move the sessions past blowing sessions or free-for-all improvisations. MORE