Sara Schoenbeck

Sara Schoenbeck

Sara Schoenbeck knew from an early age that she did not want to play bassoon in a symphony, not on a regular basis. Early on, she was much more interested in exploring improvisation and experimental music. She has performed everything from avant-garde jazz to hip-hop and rock to music from India, Ghana and Haiti.

For her self-titled release, Schoenbeck performs duets with nine artists — three free improvisations, three of her originals and three compositions by others.

The opener, “O’Saris,” is a mostly soothing, folkish piece performed with drummer Harris Eisenstadt. “Sand Dune Trilogy” with flutist Nicole Mitchell starts and closes with some energetic interplay, sandwiching a quiet dissonance. “Lullaby” with guitarist Nels Cline becomes a ballad with Schoenbeck’s long tones on bassoon, with a three-note guitar pattern, and background electronics.

The fairly brief “Chordata” is a fiery free improvisation with Roscoe Mitchell on soprano saxophone. It contrasts with pianist Matt Mitchell’s mostly through-composed “Auger Strokes,” which is quietly moody and a bit long. “Absence” with bassist Mark Dresser is a tribute to the late bassoonist Marcuselle Whitfield, alternating between somber and celebration. A fairly peaceful “Anaphoria” with pianist Wayne Horvitz” and a more passionate “Suspend A Bridge” with cellist Peggy Lee are both free improvisations. The intriguing set, generally more peaceful than expected, concludes with the piano and haunting voice of Robin Holcomb on “Sugar.”