Joe Hertenstein / Thomas Heberer / Joachim Badenhorst / Pascal Niggenkemper: Polylemma (2011)
German drummer Joe Hertenstein currently resides in Brooklyn, NY, where he ingratiates his wares into the pulsating jazz-improvisation climate. His trio HNH, featuring quarter-tone trumpet ace Thomas Heberer and drummer Pascal Niggenkemper, receives a shrewdly devised uplift with the addition of bass clarinetist Joachim Badenhorst on Polylemma; a term that indicates a difficult predicament. Keeping in line with the title, the band executes a fluent sequence of decision-making processes throughout the program. It's an open-world montage of semi-structured themes and a barrage of contrasting abstracts.
The bass clarinet and trumpet alignment casts a contrapuntal, yet festive alignment of tonal swashes and polyrhythmic story lines, nailed down by the leader's multidimensional accompaniment. Rugged, smooth and sprightly, the quartet abides by a pliant mode of operations. The musicians incorporate bluesy fabrics, free expressionism and microtonal components while upping the ante and delving into geometrically inclined phrasings.
The band works through an aggregation of predicaments and problem-solving occurrences on "Stratigraphy," where odd-metered pulses and subtle hues profess a changeable atmosphere. However, the instrumentalists denounce congestion and clutter by navigating through a cogent course, fused into variable theme-building efforts.
At times sparse and roomy, these works signify a hub of cleverly enacted plot conversions. It's an agile unit that can transcend stately themes into loosely organized dialogues with regenerative plot developments. And the soloists' focused interactions intimate a highly artistic game plan that supersedes the tried and true, especially when considering the freer aspects of jazz. In effect, Polylemma makes perfect sense as the musicians unravel all the possibilities and seize numerous opportunities.
Track Listing: Polylemma; Garden; Sugar's Dilemma; Stratigraphy; One Ocean at a Time; Crespect; Banners n' Bubbles; Nupeez.
Personnel: Joe Hertenstein: drums; Thomas Heberer: trumpet, quarter-tone trumpet; Joachim Badenhorst: bass clarinet; Pascal Niggenkemper: bass.