Belgian reedist Joachim Badenhorst brings his solo style to Heaven

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The Belgian reedist Joachim Badenhorst is hard to pin down. He's often bicontinental, splitting his time between New York and, currently, Antwerp. More significantly, he operates in so many disparate musical contexts and plays in so many different projects it could be frustrating to try to nail down a specific aesthetic for him. It would also be stupid and silly. He's an improviser and curious musician, and I've never heard him sound uncomfortable or incompatible in any of numerous settings he works in.

I missed his performance last weekend at the Hungry Brain, where he improvised with a bunch of locals including Josh Berman and Frank Rosaly, but he was also in town for the Umbrella Music Festival in 2011, when he performed with Clarino, a superb trio led by German trumpeter Thomas Heberer and including bassist Pascal Niggenkemper. Last year that trio released its terrific second album, called Cookbook (Red Toucan), which showcased the group's fiercely intuitive ability to improvise on the system of graphic notation developed by Heberer, navigating those thematic sketches with chamberlike intimacy and meticulously honed rapport. The CD booklet includes a few of those scores, but without knowing what the various symbols represent I can't really say much about them. Badenhorst sounds excellent throughout, using both clarinet and bass clarinet to shape liquid circular breathing patterns and guttural overblowing here and garrulous vibrato shimmers and serene melodies there.

Badenhorst will play again on Saturday at Heaven Gallery, performing solo (the trio of Guillermo Gregorio, Jason Roebke, and Brian Labycz share the bill), celebrating the release of a vinyl-only release of solo improvisations called The Jungle He Told Me (Smeraldina-Rima). Here the music is more austere and abstract, with the reedist alternating between clarinet, bass clarinet, and tenor saxophone; the album functions largely as a vigorous act of exploration and research, yet there's an overriding concision and focus at work. On a piece like "Rafel Romp," with Badenhorst digging into the outer reaches of his clarinet, he draws upon fragments of jazz history, imbuing this particular improvisation with the sort of grainy slurs one heard often during the swing era. You can check that one out below.


Today's playlist:

Roil, Frost Frost (Bo'Weavil)
Trevor Watts & Veryan Weston, 5 More Dialogues (Emanem)
Jefferson Friedman, Quartets (New Amsterdam)
Johan Berke, Nordic Scenes in Chromatic Blue (Gason Jazz)
Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra, MTO Plays Sly (Royal Potato Family)

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