Nickendes Perlgras Meat Hat

Clarinetist/saxophonist Michael Theike, perhaps best known for his work with Gebhard Ullmann’s Clarinet Trio, combines forces with trumpeter Michael Anderson and drummer Eric Schaefer to record a CD that makes insightful use of the art of brevity. The longest of the 16 tracks is just over five minutes, while most pieces clocking in between two and three minutes. Composition duties are shared equally by the members of this well-rehearsed, tightly focussed trio and the tunes range from a Braxtonian march (albeit with playfulness that eludes professorial Anthony), elegiac evocation and Ornettish melodicism to Instabile Orchestra raunchiness. Thoughtful ensemble playing has one horn harmonising with the other shifting to accompaniment or faux bass line, which is all supported by the orchestral colouring supplied by the exceedingly original drums of Schaefer. His musicality is on full display in Thieke’s intriguing "Max (for Max Ernst),” where he sounds like a gamelan orchestra played by Paul Motian. The instruments are clearly recorded; a good thing, because each musician has a superb sound, and the beauty of Meat Hat is that their separate and combined timbres are exquisitely balanced and audible. The group can get funky too, as on Thieke’s fun "Hurrah,” which features an energetic but centred drum solo. Sharing characteristics with the Jimmy Guiffre Trio, Nickendes Perlgras makes music that is free to roam, essentially melodic, accessible, intelligent, and, above all, deeply human. (Konnex)