Hertestein/Heberer/Badenhorst/Niggenkemper Polylemma

Free jazz, when played at a high level, doesn't sound so much "free" as "naturally manifesting ideas and structures." Players don't play just anything. Rather, they use melodies and rhythms as malleable materials and reference points in evolving, real-time conversations. This quartet of Brooklyn residents take musical conversation to the level of lucid expressiveness. Trumpeter Thomas Heberer and bass clarinettist Joachim Badenhorst play harmonized melodies that coalesce and come apart in unisons ceding to counterpoint. "Polylemma" reveals itself in a motivic series of tailgating exchanges, all underpinned by the subtly sympathetic drumming of Joe Hertenstein and rich-toned bass playing of Pascal Niggenkemper. The group swing loosely, with grace and mutual respect for each other's contributions. Some pieces, like "Stratigraphy," are quite abstract, with non-metrical sections hanging on arco bass harmonics and pianissimo trumpet tones. "One Ocean at a Time," on the other hand, comes out swinging, with a strong line that yields to a dense but beautifully controlled drum solo, returning to driving bass, then an intriguing arco solo. Polylemma is clear, articulate music by musicians who listen to each other to produce a whole greater than the considerable parts. (Red Toucan)