Cut a Caper
Ig Henneman Sextet
Negotiating the boundary between noted and improvised music, Europe and Canada, is the all-star sextet of Dutch violist Ig Henneman which can be heard in concert at the Music Gallery June 24. The ten limpid pieces by Henneman which make up this disc are interpreted by a drum-less ensemble whose particularized arrangements and advanced technical requirements suggest contemporary new music. But when Berlin-based trumpeter Axel Dörner gargles altissimo air through his horn or when the violist lets loose with airborne spiccato snatches, the formalism is left aside. As well, there may be canon-like voicing on Moot, but Charles Mingus-like echoes appear on Toe and Heel, while the title tune adds marching band hops to other sound tropes.
Part of this CD’s textural freedom must be ascribed to the alternately metronomic hammering or sly soundboard stretches from Toronto pianist Marilyn Lerner. Upping the CanCon quota is Montreal clarinet and bass clarinettist Lori Freedman, although pinpointing which bracing chalumeau snorts or altissimo split tone squeals arise from her horns rather than the clarinet of Amsterdam’s Ab Baars, who also exposes liquid tenor saxophone runs and narrowed shakuhachi puffs, is nearly impossible. Fellow Netherlander Wilbert De Joode holds the disparate sections together with steel-fingered string slaps that at points expand the polyphony with braced sul tasto or col legno slides.
Beside Cut a Caper, where Lerner’s percussive echoes could as easily fit a performance of Morton Feldman as Mingus, another stand-out track is Narration. With a post-modern novel’s nonlinear form, this narration meanders among sections that highlight glottal echoes from the trumpeter, knife-sharp plucks from the violist, horns harmonized until their tones splinter into tongue slaps or intense trilling plus the bassist’s assured pedal-point ostinato.