Klippe (Clean Feed Records; 2011)
Joachim Badenhorst (clarinet)
Pascal Niggenkemper (bass)
Stunning. Simply stunning. I really stumbled into this record. It came about as a result of listening to the recent Equilibrium album, Walking Voices. I wanted to investigate some more material that Joachim Badenhorst had worked on and the new album from German born now New York resident, Thomas Heberer kept coming into view. Mainly from friends constantly telling me I need to check this guy out. And I finally decided I'd better take a listen. And what a surprise...
He studied under the great Manfred Schoof as well as plays in the collective Instant Composers Pool, led by Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink. But aside from those illustrious backgrounds, he has a loaded catalogue of music that varies in themes (somber to cinematic to Moleaver-esque electronics) but is played with the highest of quality.
On his latest album, Klippe, Heberer delivers a chamber session that is moving as well as experimental in texture. The title refers to Heberer's childhood growing up near the Baltic Sea. The music strongly evokes a sense of space, long depths and far-reaching exploration.
"Torn" opens the disc with a delicate examination of space that has both a European classical element as well as encompassing aesthetics of free jazz. It slowly builds just for a moment and quickly recedes back into your consciousness. Heberer's performance is steady and emotionally effective.
Heberer's composition, "Mole" reminds me of early Enrico Rava. It's crisp and vibrant with sharp passages from both Badenhorst and Heberer. Niggenkemper adds an eerie backdrop with his soft touches on the bass strings. "Stapellauf" shows some of the affect Schoff's influence has had on Heberer. It swirls with frenetic and dark tones from both Niggenkemper and Heberer that pulsate and shift back and forth.
"Blanker Hans" and "Luv und Lee" both feature a mixture of improvised and structured chords that sees Bandenhorst and Heberer playing counterpoint while Niggenkemper rides up and down the scales with subtle abandon. "Einlaufbier" returns the listener to shore after a long journey. It's quiet and short but the final notes will linger in your memory well after the session ends.