The New York City Jazz Record review by Robert Iannapollo

Klippe Thomas Heberer’s Clarino (CF 226)
Arbr’-En-Ciel Christian Mendoza Group (W.E.R.F.)
Donkere Golven International Trio (W.E.R.F.)
New York-based Belgian reed player Joachim Badenhorst has had a busy year. He’s a presence on Tony Malaby’s nonet recording Novela, made are cording with the Icelandic group Mogil and recorded several small group sessions in addition to the three releases featured here. He’s a versatile musician and his work on clarinet is particularly strong. On Klippe, ICP Orchestra trumpeter Thomas Heberer uses Badenhorst, along with German bassist Pascal Niggenkemper, for his Clarino trio. It’s a good combination with a wide sonic range. For this group, Heberer uses a style of composition he calls “cookbook notation”. Notation is shaped to a specific set of rules, memorized, and then improvised on the fly. This gives the players wide latitude of interpretation, which hopefully makes the music continually fresh. Badenhorst and Niggenkemper seem inspired by this approach and what emerges is true trio music. During“Kleiner Bruder”, what starts with a somber introduction evolves into a section of hyperactivity before Heberer plays a sustained, shaded drone, bass bubbling underneath and bass clarinet weaving around both figures. On “Torn” the music is spacious with notes dropping slowly and deliberately into the playing field. Badenhorst’s role is equal to the other two players and Klippe is a good place to hear him at length.On pianist Christian Mendoza’s quintet album Arbr’-En-Ciel, Badenhorst is the second reed in the frontline. He shares his position with Ben Sluijs (alto sax and flute). Filling out the group is bassist Brice Soniano (Badenhorst’s duo partner in Rawfishboys)and drummer Teun Verbruggen. While the music hereis more overtly structured than the disc above, it still has passages of free interaction. Mendoza’scompositions are intricate (changing tempos, unusual melodies and improvisational strategies, etc.) and Verbruggen’s clattering drums help push these ideas along with finesse while his textural electronic work on “November Snow” adds a further dimension. Badenhorst’s clarinet and tenor sax work is prominent and his naturalness in a setting so circumscribed demonstrates another facet to his playing. Mendoza presents a set of engaging compositions that keep the players on their toes. A few are thematically connected, which gives the entire proceeding a suite-like flavor. The International Trio (Badenhorst with Steve Swell on trombone and drummer Ziv Ravitz) appears to be Badenhorst’s project. Although the bulk of Donkere Golven consists of free improvisations, there are also two Badenhorst compositions. Swell is a goodfoil for Badenhorst and his big burry sound wraps nicely around Badenhorst’s clarinet and jousts deftly with his bass clarinet. Both handle the outer ranges of their respective instruments with skill. Ravitz’ drumming is spacious, frequently opting for subtle commentary and decoration around the two horns. The two compositions are nicely placed in the programand genuinely stand out, giving the listener unexpected focal points. Badenhorst has organized a strong group and hopefully these musicians take this project further.

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