Theo Jörgensmann & Oleś Bothers

Alchemia
hatOLOGY 646

Proof once again that age differences are nearly meaningless when cohesive music-making is involved, this live concert demonstrates the sonic unity between German basset clarinetist Theo Jörgensmann (b.1948), Polish bassist Marcin Oleś (b. 1973) and drummer Bartomiej Brat Oleś (b. 1973).

One of the most cohesive improvising rhythm sections since the team of bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Jimmy Cobb, the Oleś brothers may have even more ESP: they’re twins. As importantly, this Cracow date demonstrates how comfortable and inspired both they and the veteran reed man have become with one another following three previous CDs.

Alternately sonorous and staccato, Jörgensmann makes full use of his instrument’s pitch – one third lower than the regular clarinet – but is still capable of coloratura sallies. With his tone lyrical and malleable on a piece like Brat’s “4 x 4” he suggests a Swing Era orientation, then turns it around with screeching glottal punctuation to confirm his modernity. Meantime Marcin strengthens the slinky tempo with soundboard reverb while Brat bounces, drags and ratchets textures from his kit.

Both brothers composed “Menace” the CD’s showpiece, which, without missing a beat, eventually fades into Jörgensmann’s “Giuffree”. His sing-song keening on the later confirms his admiration for chamber-jazz pioneer Jimmy Giuffre, yet pinpoints his “free” distance from the honoree.

“Menace” isn’t really menacing, but an andante line which allows each man full expression. Encompassing wind-tunnel-like squeals, disjointed glissandi plus tongue slips and flutters, the clarinetist negotiates triple counterpoint with one brother who contributes cymbal slaps, timed ratamacues and speedy rim shots and the other whose plans incorporate airy plucks, thumping reverb and woody slaps with perfectly balanced round notes. Eventually the three achieve such harmonic intertwining that it suggests that Jörgensmann’s ancestry may have Polish musical roots and vice versa.

— Ken Waxman

— In MusicWorks Issue #102