RT 9345 (2012)

Thomas Heberer's Clarino

Thomas Heberer: trumpet; quarter-tone trumpet
Joachim Badenhorst: clarinet; bass clarinet
Pascal Niggenkemper: bass

1 Lockruf
2 Velvet
3 Parcours
4 Inselberg
5 Nomos
6 Mengenleere
7 Tätterrettät
8 Bogen
9 Deux
10 Cup
11 Erdbär
12 Zuname

all music written by Thomas Heberer

recorded by Ziv Ravitz at Douglass Street Music Collective, Brooklyn, in May 2011



cookbook example 1

As a composer writing for improvisers, I try to devise distinctive musical triggers to help shape the sonic outcome and inspire participants.

Success requires a certain amount of loose ends per piece; musicians will pick those up to complete the job.

When Clarino got started in New York City in 2009, I introduced my then-new graphic notation code "Cookbook" to Joachim and Pascal. Both these amazing artists were kind enough to take the time to learn the semantics along with a bunch of scores (see some excerpts here).

The result was our initial recording "Klippe."

Following the release, both on vinyl and CD, the three of us thought that there was more to explore in this direction, so taking the momentum, I wrote this other set of tracks here, going "one step beyond" (remember that great Jackie McLean album?).

Whereas the tunes on "Klippe" were incorporating very open materials with few restrictions on pitch and rhythm, the new ones are more distinctive and "organized," mixing the original concepts and strategies with parts written on regular staff paper.

The goal remained the same: Create a music that is more than the sum of our shared experiences -- fresh and inspiring for us to play and for you to listen to.

Thomas Heberer, New York City, February 2012

cookbook example 3

cookbook example 5

History of Clarino

I met Belgian clarinetist Joachim Badenhorst in 2007, when we were part of Han Bennink's "Friends" ensemble in New York. When Joachim moved to the city permanently in 2009, we started to meet regularly and play duets.

Dave Douglas invited me to perform at his Font Festival in the summer of 2009, and I suggested the duet; thus Clarino was born. At the end of the year, French-German Brooklynite Pascal Niggenkemper joined on bass, and the three of us started working on some music, incorporating my Cookbook code.

History of Cookbook

My notation code Cookbook came from a desire to bring a fresh approach to blending the two universes of improvisation and composition.

Cookbook is an instant composition method, allowing for the highest amount of freedom on the musicians' side while incorporating significant structural tools on the composer's side as well.

It does so, by implementing the idea of instant memory. Shaped according to a specific set of rules, musical units are improvised and memorized on the fly, and later re-introduced into the musical process—sometimes modified, sometimes not.

Thomas Heberer




New York City Jazz Record, November 2012
Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

"Cookbook" is a new graphic notation code invented by Mr. Heberer and was introduced to the members of Clarino in 2009. Thomas has been refining the concept ever since their first recording 'Klippe' (on Clean Feed). Hence, 'Cookbook' is the culmination of of what the trio has learned and accomplished as of now (June of 2012).

Joachim Badenhorst moved back to Amsterdam last year after being in NY for a while so we don't get to hear him live as much. His playing is always refreshing, so it is great to hear him hear in a most creative and highly focused session.

Clarino has a unique sound as if they are drawing from fragments of songs and then exploring different nuances, shades or colors. Thomas' hushed muted trumpet and Joachim's soft, playful clarinet weave short lines around one another while Pascal creates an elegant island underneath. This music reminds me of a dreamworld where spirits roam free yet they still pay close attention to each other as they move from scene to scene. As the tempo picks up so does the intensity and heated interplay. There are some great moments when the trumpet and clarinet play a series of tight lines together and then shadow each other as they swerve around one another. I get the feeling that the more time I spend with this disc, the more will be revealed as there are a number of somewhat buried gems (strategies or ideas) beneath the surface that will take some time to fully absorb.

It is nice to hear some challenging music that is not too difficult to comprehend.



Stephan Moore - JazzWrap

Thomas Heberer's Clarino trio have quickly released another album of inspiring, improvised yet well balanced material in form of Cookbook.

Cookbook refers to the name Heberer has given to the form in which he has written the material for this trio. Cookbook fuses more structure from thin spaces Heberer, Badenhorst and Niggenkemper produce than their debut album, Klippe. As a result it is a different effort than its predecessor and even more engaging.

"Lockruf" opens with long notes that are stretched through time by Badenhorst and then joined by Heberer and Niggenkemper. Each creates a counterpoint but with lines that meet to tell the story of their journey as close to the end of the piece as you could get. A quiet and peaceful conclusion.

The multi-layered "Nomos" features a few complex lines from Niggenkemper. This is juxtaposed by ascending notes on clarinet and trumpet. Heberer has infused a number of playful notes into a delicate and complicated pattern. Very enlightening. The quiet introspection of "Bogen" with its utilization of various breathing techniques on the horns is closely matched by haunting chords resonating from the bass. This slides swiftly into a powerful recitation of repeating chords in the heavy "Deux." An intense passage of notes by Niggenkemper and rolling lines of Badenhorst make it an astounding number, albeit short.

Heberer uses long stretches of tone and color to close out this session with "Zuname." The pattern is circular and continues to build; the bassline is just audible underneath both horns. As the piece closes you hear the tones still echoing in the back of your mind.

Thomas Heberer has created a trio that seems to be as at ease within the material as it is with expanding on it. Cookbook may be just a clean slate with a few lines of direction but Clarino has made this a very exciting and creative journey to experience. Highly Recommended.

JazzWrap - A Music Blog



Stef Gijssels , Free Jazz *****

Last year I was really impressed by Thomas Heberer's Clarino's debut album "Klippe", with the leader on trumpet and quartertone trumpet, Joachim Badenhorst on clarinets and Pascal Niggenkemper on bass.

Badenhorst and Niggenkemper got acquainted with Heberer's own notation system for composed improvisation, and now that the effort was made, and the first hurdle taken, why not explore further. It was rather a story of enthusiasm : the collaboration and the end result worked so well that Heberer composed some more pieces for the trio. And the result is even more staggeringly beautiful.

The setting is intimate, calm chamber-jazz, with instruments that play mostly in their usual voicings, making the overall sound very accessible. Yet, in contrast to most chamber music, all three musicians are quite expansive emotionally, pushing their sounds in expressions of deep feelings. And then there are the compositions. Each track has its own concept and returning phrases, echoes and counterpoints, as ingredients with which the tune is played. To the credit of the both composer and musicians, the ingredients are light and sparse and used to give their full flavour rather than a complex broth of conflicting tastes.

The end result is extremely beautiful, with songs to be moved, to wonder at, to be surprised, to be impressed.

At the same time it eludes definition, it defies classification or even references, which is one of the reasons why it took me so long to review it. I've been listening to the album with pleasure and repeated anticipation for months, trying to find ways to capture its essence in words. It just doesn't work. It's not possible. So apologies for that. I can only recommend that you listen to it for yourself.

Elusive, fragile, clever, subtle, abstract, lyrical ...


Stuart Broomer - The New York City Jazz Record

Thomas Heberer is a German trumpeter of thoughtful phrase and subtle wit, best known for his long-running presence in the Instant Composers Pool Orchestra. In recent years he has also aligned himself with a group of younger New York-resident musicians with European backgrounds and a common aesthetic.

His group Clarino includes Belgian clarinetist Joachim Badenhorst and French-German bassist Pascal Niggenkemper. Heberer’s system of graphic notation that he calls “Cookbook” was employed on the group’s first CD (Klippe, Cleanfeed, 2011); for this recording, Heberer has extended the system to include specifically notated passages as well, creating a mixed methodology that structures, conditions and grows with the improvisation. Where one method begins or ends, though, is unlikely to be immediately apparent to the listener: the 12 short works are virtually seamless, freeform chamber pieces that assume their ultimate shape with a refinement that might be achieved through any of the methods involved when employed by musicians of this level. Heberer, Badenhorst and Niggenkemper are all masters of varied sonorities, consistently giving the music a particularly beautiful surface, whether it’s Heberer’s subtle use of mutes, the controlled overtones of Badenhorst’s bass clarinet or the woodiness of his soprano or the cello-like sweetness of Niggenkemper’s bowed upper-register.

There’s often a spaciousness here and it connects with the breadth of timbres to suggest a much larger group. It might feel like chamber music, but there’s nothing precious about it: it’s controlled, focused and, in its own spare way, intense.

New York City Jazz Record, November 2012


Paul Serralheiro - Squid's Ear

This trio of European expats living in New York have put out a second album of music that plays on the tensions and surprises that arise from the meeting of composition and improvisation.

Based on trumpeter Heberer's composition code, which he calls Cookbook, the trio — Heberer, clarinetist Joachim Badenhorst and double bassist Pascal Niggenkemper — have concocted 12 pieces of musical culinary delight, with exotic titles like the opening siren call "Lockruf," and appetizing nouns like "Inselberg," "Mengenleere" and "Bogen" — mostly German-sounding, with some French, and a play on words like the onomatopoetic "Tätterrettät" or the powerful closer, "Zuname."

While there are some examples in the liner notes of the graphic scoring used to provoke the music here, Heberer tells us that more traditional notation is also used. The result is what the listener ultimately judges the musical concept by, and the impressions on this listener suggest a suave and minimalistic effect, for the most part, with sustained finesse playing from all involved for the duration of this 50 minutes plus side.

From the spare airiness of the opening clarinet intro, a line which very gradually gets supported by a swelling acro bass and a perky Harmon-muted trumpet, to the growling finale of guttural trumpet and rasping bass and bass clarinet, there is a wide palette of sounds, but the common thread would be precision and a delicate way with the musical conception of timbre and density, and a very open sense of form. You're neither boxed in nor overwhelmed by this music. It evolves organically in a way that keeps you guessing where the music is going and, as a result, almost continually delighted.

Squid's Ear 2013-02-18