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- The Jungle He Told Me by Joachim Badenhorst
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Belgian reed player Joachim Badenhorst has been involved in all sorts of projects over the years (including Baloni and Han Bennink Trio but the list is as long as my telescopic robot arm) and on ‘The Jungle He Told Me’ he’s going it alone for the very first time, offering a series of improvisations for clarinet, bass clarinet and tenor sax which are far less difficult than I had anticipated.
Badenhorst has an understated style, opting for sultry melodies and passages of hypnotic repeated shapes which on occasion conjure up a Colin Stetson-esque whirlwind of sound, while elsewhere he’ll drone breathily, allowing the notes to crack and buzz and shudder, exposing and toying with the physical limits of the instruments he’s manipulating. There’s no Mats Gustafsson style jazz skronk going on, it’s much more about Badenhorst taking the listener on a journey through a series of sonic meditations and contorted, alien sounds. Even when he does up the tempo and volume on tracks like ‘Tenor’ there’s still a sense of control and an underlying rhythm anchoring everything.
I think it’s his restraint which really sets this apart, since it’s a quality many freeform players simply throw out of the window when they’re letting rip. I love it when he quietens down to almost nothing and it’s all breath and spit and valve noise, blurting out casual, nimble-fingered shapes into the air. If you’re the sort of person who enjoys free sax/clarinet improvisations this is a pretty essential listen, remarkable and unique and (to my ears) thoroughly listenable (although the resident Norman saxophobes are insisting I turn it off now because “we’re all going to go mad here”).
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