May 12, 2016
Ruben Machtelinckx/Hilmar Jensson/Joachim Badenhorst/Nathan Wouters
el Negocito eNR027
Trytone TT 559-059
By Ken Waxman
Recently Belgian reedist Joachim Badenhorst has gone from being one young unknown player tapped by Han Bennink for his band, to an in-demand stylist. Today the Antwerp native is as likely to turn up on traditional dates with vocalists and guitars as idiosyncratic all-improv sessions. These CDs suggest the tale of youth who must choose between doors concealing either an attractive woman or a ferocious tiger. Badenhorst sometimes chooses the wrong portal. Through one symbolic door on Erasing Borders he plays with two Argentineans-in-Amsterdam, guitarist Guillermo Celano and drummer Marcos Baggiani and Dutch bassist Clemens van der Feen, seven Celano compositions reflecting the human and ecological consequences of our lifestyle. Behind the other door is FLOCK, which matches Badenhorst with Belgian guitarist/banjoist Ruben Machtelinckx, who composed all the soothing tracks, Icelandic guitarist Hilmar Jensson and Belgian bassist Nathan Wouters. While some might dispute which door is which, the distinction is that as a composer, Celano wants to challenge the status quo; Machtelinckx wants to cheer it.
Celano’s commitment is revealed in the four compositions which are the CD’s nucleus. Unlike obvious musical propagandists like Phil Ochs or Frederic Rzewski, Celano doesn’t use lyrics or melodrama to make his point. Instead his writing is concerned with nuance and suggestion. “The Immigrant” for instance, conveys unconscionable, nostalgia through a gentle Getzian interlude from Badenhorst’s tenor saxophone and ends with optimistic upward wafting guitar picking. Like a widower tying to decide whether to be stoic or sorrowful, Badenhorst’s plaintive clarinet convey one response to “Requiem for a Dying Planet”, while slashing guitar flanges provide a bellicose challenge. Buzzing guitar reverb and knob-twisting confirm that the paranoia targeted on “Paranoid” doesn’t extend to industrial-strength licks. Still the drum-guitar partnership that has characterized C.B.G. from its beginnings provide eventual relief as Baggiani’s tick-tock tones join Celano’s fluid pumps for a “Reveille”-like release. “War for Peace and Oil” builds from a spacious introduction to intense guitar clips and double-tongued clarinet buzzes to suggest the parameters of steadily worsening global challenges.
Compared to Celano’s vision, the other CD resembles ‘60s discs like Romantic Guitars Play for Lovers. Machtelinckx, who has worked with Bart Maris, isn’t a schlockmeister, but while the Argentinean guitarist is intent on erasing borders, the Belgian is committed to maintaining them. With the three string players’ tones snuggling together evoking ProgRock epochs, Badenhorst’s contributions are often reduced to feathery decoration. Flamenco-like string jabs on a track such as “The Hunter” sharpen the narrative but never upset it; while tunes like “Loos” aren’t loos(e) enough to properly isolate cool mid-range reed tones from the string harmonies which are as locked-in as a dungeon. FLOCK’s virtue is that while some rustic expositions like “Cumulus” may remember melancholic Americana, “Telstar”-like fuzz tones invest those pieces with enough fortitude that they avoid sentimentality. Choosing the Erasing Borders door means that Badenhorst is united with the fanciful female representing high-quality music. Stepping inside FLOCK’s door is disappointing, but the musical tiger behind it is too placid to be dangerous.
Tracks: Erasing: Erasing Borders; The Architect; The Immigrant; Requiem for a Dying Planet; Paranoid; War for Peace and Oil; Amsterdam Chacarera
Personnel: Erasing: Joachim Badenhorst: tenor saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet; Guillermo Celano: guitar; Clemens van der Feen: bass; Marcos Baggiani: drums
Tracks: Flock: Flock; Peterson; McMurdo; The Hunter; Cumulus; Loos; Mr Maurin; Gaap
Personnel: Flock: Joachim Badenhorst: tenor saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet; Ruben Machtelinckx: guitar; baritone guitar, banjo; Hilmar Jensson: guitar; Nathan Wouters : bass
—For The New York City Jazz Record May 2016