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The name Theo Jorgensmann may not be quite as familiar to modern jazz advocates on these shores; however, when we speak of those who have expanded the possibilities and successfully integrated this instrument into modern day jazz ideologies, let us not disregard Jorgensmann’s noteworthy contributions. With Snijbloemen, the German clarinetist along with vibraphonist Christopher Dell, bassist Christian Ramond and drummer Klaus Kugel provide the listener with a series of compositions that might summon imagery of an intricate or finely crafted sculpture consisting of sharp angles and complex patterns.
The first piece, “Kospi” commences with simple and somewhat dainty or childlike themes supplemented by Christopher Dell’s backwash of vibes and Jorgensemann’s sensitive and at times whimsical lines. Here, the musicians coalesce as Dell’s extended vibes solo marks a change of direction, meter and flow capped off by the clarinetist’s stinging lines, shrewd utilization of vibrato and beautiful yet altogether blistering attack. Jorgensmann’s unique vernacular on this instrument is nothing short of amazing. Throughout, the clarinetist pursues phraseology that might parallel a hot shot, fleet-fingered Bop saxophonist! Jorgensmann’s circuitous and rapid-fire attack is enhanced by his keen improvisational speak and slashing lines. The piece titled, “Wiesengrund” is a free-jazz escapade featuring the clarinetist’s scathing lyricism and the band’s spirited style of execution. The tide turns a bit on compositions such as “Dark Room” and “Dark Room (Take 2)” where the musicians construct ethereal tones and motifs via a slightly deterministic methodology while they also invoke a sense of cabalistic isolation enacted in dirge-like fashion.
In Dutch, Snijbloemen translates into – cut flowers. The “Theo Jorgensmann Quartet” instills earthen qualities along with bright, imaginative themes that summon the mind’s eye, yet the musicians are liable to shift gears or spawn new motifs on a moment’s notice while listening to Jorgensmann’s mastery of the clarinet is just an added bonus! * * * * ½
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.