Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hertenstein / Heberer / Badenhorst / Niggenkemper - Polylemma [Red Toucan]

Joe Hertenstein - drums
Thomas Heberer - trumpet, quarter-tone trumpet
Joachim Badenhorst - bass clarinet
Pascal Niggenkemper - bass

Red Toucan 2011

According to wiktionary polylemma is:

circumstance in which a choice must be made between multiple options that seem equally undesirable. Which is a surprising way to describe the process of improvisation. After all, in the lack of objective evaluation process being equally favourable is the same as equally unfavourable as no choice brings any real qualificative change. Or does it.

Anyway if you're looking for modern jazz with carefully crafted compositions and free immagination twist to it this cd is not really a dilemma. Speaking of which there's "Sugar's Dilemma" brings the classy swing and noble bass clarinet tone on full display with its unhurried melodic and timbral intensity. "Stratigraphy" is a game of playfully layered and interlined lines (intriguing contrast between legato trumpet line, staccato clarinet taps), ends with subtly suspended long tones. "Garden" is a peacefull, gentle walk featuring some of the most delicate percussive commentaries to a melodic intervalic cued lines of the horn section. "One Ocean at a time" is another feature for some beatifully polyrhythmic and melodic drumming, followed by bass and Pascal's tone is just such a pleasure to hear, deep and strong yet so light, just flowing with the bowed notes over and then flying with the energetically struck strings. There's great understanding within the band, no showing off but just playing togethert, without forcing anything being forced or stretched of far-fetched. The cd ends with the strong free-jazz pulse of the "Nuupeez" and you'd be hard put to find a piece so evidently in its harmonic structures yet so accessible with its melodic lines of trumpet-cliarinet exchanges. The quartet steer of the dissonant and dynamic extremist in the favour of more focused expressions. 
While the light-handed and subtle rhythm section puts the music deeply rooted in the jazz tradition the melodies are somewhat more european-oriented which proves for an effective mix. And it's a pure pleasure to enjoy their way with the instruments (no need to introduce these musicians I hope). This is a band of perfectly combined and balanced four elements, deceivingly simple and basic. And within this modesty there's pretty much to hang your ear on.
According to the theory of communication the more effort is input into the creation of the message the less will be needed to perceive it, consequently the less effort one puts into the act of communication, the more easily it comes the more difficult it will be to read. The uncommon clarity to the band's sound and direction, is only a proof of artistic effort is put into the act of creation, into the constant way of choosing between "udesirable" options. For fans of modern jazz this should be a very much so "desirable" and enjoyable listen. 

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