Jeff Henderson: The Charming Clarinet (iiii/bandcamp)

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Lip Sticks
Jeff Henderson: The Charming Clarinet (iiii/bandcamp)

Multi-instrumentalist Jeff Henderson – last mentioned in these pages as part of UHP (Upper Hutt Posse) – must have one of the largest catalogues of anyone in this country: he has been releasing batches of live recordings which range from solo performances through duets and those with the band Trioglodytes.

A very hard man to keep up with, and what is notable also is just how consistently interesting these releases have been.

This one in wonderful packaging which replicates an old player's manual is really quite something.

The first two pieces – the title track opener a transfixing 17-plus minutes, the second Lip Sticks a touch over seven – are solo clarinet pieces but the first more akin to the minimalism of early Steve Reich in its hypnotic repetition, subtle tonal and pitch shifts, the second seemingly located somewhere in the exotic Middle East but again captivating in its use of what seems to be multi-tracking and delay.

Neither bring to mind Benny Goodman.

Elsewhere Henderson uses clarinet like an experimental sonic circus toy capable of animal-like sounds (the more demanding but kinda-fun Seek Larry Nut), Balouchi Bop circles back to the Middle East and minimalism, and the final piece Eleclarinetics is Henderson with electronic artist Isaac Smith in a quizzical dialogue where the eccentricities Henderson pulls out have a lively counterpart in the electronica.

With live sound manipulations by Daniel Behan, this album might not charm in quite the way the album title suggests (the flatulence in Eleclarinetics) but the two openers and Balouchi Bop are quite extraordinary and certainly unexpected.

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You can hear and buy this album at the extensive iiii Records bandcamp page here



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