Sara Schoenbeck/Travis Baker Yesca One

Yesca One features an unusual pairing: bassoon and acoustic bass. Though the expressive possibilities of the bassoon are often overlooked, this is certainly no novelty act - bassoonist Schoenbeck plays with great ferocity and technique. She combines classical technique and the ability to exploit the sonic range of the instrument with the ability to improvise well, conjuring up smeared textures to resemble trumpet, any variety of saxes, and, amazingly, Baker's bass passages in several sections. But the precision in Schoenbeck's playing is matched by Baker's authoritative bass playing, whether playing arco or relentlessly plucking and bending the strings (check the title track), he never lays back. It's a tall order to make comparisons to William Parker, but Baker does have that kind of attack. He seems to be playing a more dominant role in some improvised passages, but when they settle into melodic passages, the instruments' sounds are incredibly cohesive. Each of these pieces is fairly short and packed with ideas and different approaches to the duet dynamic. One minor problem was the overly wide stereo separation, with bass and bassoon in separate channels; it makes for a less pleasant listen on a discman. (Spool)