Ants to the Moon

SGL 1505-2

“From tunes that sound like theme music to a Turkish bath/opium den and instrumentals rivalling Bill Frisell’s wilder stuff to a collision between New Age and Ornette Coleman, Babkas goes for the creative gusto.”

—James Muretich, Calgary Herald

On their second CD for Songlines, this young, Brooklyn-based jazz/new music trio have harnessed the brimming energy that marked their self-titled debut and crafted a finely detailed group of compositions which they treat with typically eclectic intensity. Shimmering lyricism melds with improvcore, twisted bop lines don klezmer rhythms or M-base backbeats as BABKAS contribute to the cultural cross-fertilization that is making jazz the newest world music. Writing in CMJ, David Newgarden refers to their “impeccable swing and vitality” and concludes that “BABKAS are expanding the jazz canon rather than simply regurgitating it.”

Formed in Seattle in late 1992, BABKAS have performed frequently in New York and Boston and toured Europe as well as western Canada and the U.S. Guitarist Brad Shepik is a member of Dave Douglas’ Tiny Bell Trio (debut CD on Songlines) and contributes his knowledge of eastern European and Arabic styles to two jazz/folk ensembles, Pachora and the Paradox Trio (CD on Knitting Factory), He can also be heard on record with Andy Laster’s Hydra (Songlines), Paul Motian’s Electric Bebop Band, Owen Howard and Nils Wogram, and has performed with Tim Berne, Kenny Werner, Julian Priester, Jerry Granelli and Jay Clayton. Drummer Aaron Alexander leads his own groups, and has played and recorded with Jay Clayton and the klezmer band the Mazeltones. He has also performed with Fred Hersch, Wayne Horvitz, Larry Karush, Mose Allison, Julian Priester, Kamikaze Ground Crew, and the Composers and Improvisors Orchestra (with Carla Bley). Alto saxist Briggan Krauss has performed and recorded with Wayne Horvitz’s Pigpen and has performed in Horvitz’s acoustic ensembles as well as with the New York Composers Orchestra (West), Jay Clayton, Bill Frisell, Bob Moses, Jerry Granelli, and Julian Priester.

“Is the world ready for bass-less jazz trios? Evidently…their second album shares a bare-bones lyricism with Paul Motian’s drums-guitar-sax group. But Babkas’ sound is even more propulsive and pointillistic. A warped European groove permeates ‘Rocky and Rachel,’ while the title track and ‘Lost’ are chilling ballads made all the more lonesome and affecting without the warm bass grounding.” — Steve Futterman, Rolling Stone

“[Babkas] explore the full range of textures and colors on their instruments, creating image-rich works tangled with hauntingly impressionistic and frenetically hallucinogenic soundscapes. While the improv action is often freewheeling, there are also pockets of melancholic and meditative calm that keep the disc from spinning too far out into the fringe. Above all, there’s great ensemble performances with plenty of free space as well as engaging stretches of harmonic interplay.” — Dan Ouellette, CD Review

“In the flux-and-scramble of the post-all age, BABKAS operates with stunning catholicity…Among young jazz ensembles, BABKAS is unique: collective, bassless, and with free jazz’s blisterings collapsing into Balkan music’s swirls via guitarist Brad Schoeppach’s dual roles as harmonist and rhythmic partner with drummer Aaron Alexander…Enhanced freedom through heightened musical dialogue with structure is the rule for BABKAS…So much is happening in this music — with such an inveterate groove so tricky and angular.” — Andy Bartlett, The Stranger

“A klezmer-inflected power trio…Whats’s remarkable is the way these disparate sounds are fused into a distinctive (and quirky) whole…Babkas juggles structure and freedom with wonderful expertise; the trio’s improvisations have the kind of rigor you expect from composition.” — James Marcus, Jazziz

“…a soundtrack to a dark-humoured, existentialist cartoon…Tight and refreshingly unliched, lyrical in an intricate, thoroughly modern way.” — Steve Holtje, The Wire

“Compositions of subtle complexity perfectly frame unconstrained improvisation…in both the intercommunication is so high that often the three instruments nearly merge into one voice.” — Ernie Saylor, Earshot Jazz

“Unbelievably dynamic, many would say ‘intellectual’, contemporary jazz, blending Balkan and late romantic chamber music, free jazz with rock guitar. One of the most electrifying and sophisticated jazz ensembles active today.” — Mathias Bäumel, Sächsische Zeitung

“Babkas are expanding the jazz canon rather than simply regurgitating it. With impeccable swing and vitality, the group blends bop and free jazz with rock and Eastern European ethnic traditions…Daring and fast on their feet…” — David Newgarden, CMJ

 “One of the most significant new-music groups…” — Harvey Pekar, Boston Globe









avant jazz/world/fusion
  1. Rocky and Rachel
  2. This
  3. Ants to the Moon
  4. Poland Harmonica
  5. Cautionary Tale I: Lost
  6. Cautionary Tale II: Busted
  7. Cautionary Tale III: See?
  8. Ned
  • Briggan Krauss, alto sax
  • Aaron Alexander, drums
  • Brad Shepik, guitar
  • Compositions by Brad Shepik (2, 5–7, 8), Aaron Alexander (1), Briggan Krauss (4); 3 is an improvisation.
  • Release Date
    December 19, 1994