Friday, April 15, 2016

LAMA + Joachim Badenhorst, The Elephant's Journey

Another interesting release from across the pond, namely the trio LAMA plus Joachim Badenhorst on the album The Elephant's Journey (Clean Feed 331). The group is a good one, Joachim Badenhorst on clarinet and bass clarinet, Susana Santos Silva on trumpet and flugelhorn, Goncalo Almeida on doublebass, effects and loops, and all but one of the compositions, Greg Smith on drums and electronics and one of the compositions.

This is adventurous contemporary avant jazz with a bit of electronics, nicely composed springboards and collective improvisations. Joachim and Susanna give us a good front-line presence for the compositional elements and solo space, and Goncalo plays an important role with ostinatos and in varied other ways, to fill out the ensemble melodically and harmonically as needed. And he has something to say in the solo zone as well. Greg Smith plays an expanded role considerably beyond time keeping and forms an integral part of the ensemble sound.

You hear a beautiful post-Hubbard tone from Susana and it goes especially well with the throaty bass clarinet of Joachim, reminding one just a little of the classic Dolphy-Little lineup in its open and colorful freedom collectivities, or for that matter, Barbara Donald and Sonny Simmons.

It is one of those albums that creeps up on you with successive listens. It is first-rate avant jazz, both improvisationally and compositionally, with an ensemble tight-looseness and appealing blend. It is a most pleasant surprise, ultimately formidable no-nonsense contemporary music on the cutting edge.

Check it out!

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