All About Jazz-New York review by Andrey Henkin

Joe Hertenstein / Thomas Heberer / Pascal Niggenkemper – HNH (CF 205)
At first blush, this debut album from Hertenstein, Niggenkemper and Heberer (sounding more like a German law firm than an avant garde jazz trio) has an obvious antecedent: Manfred Schoof’s New Jazz Trio of the early ‘70s. Not only does it share instrumentation (trumpet, bass and drums) but it also reminds us that at one point MPS Records was the Clean Feed of its day, releasing progressive music from both sides of the Atlantic. And both groups hail from the lovely city of Köln and are/were more interested in the improvisatory possibilities opened up by composition than some of their free-jazz crazed countrymen. Only one piece here is totally improvised, or at least its crediting to the entire trio implies as much. The rest are penned by drummer Joe Hertenstein, trumpeter Thomas Heberer or the pair in tandem. The former’s writing style is more boppish while the latter is an adherent to the open school of fellows like Axel Dörner but both have elements of the other’s approach as well, a wonderful expression of synergy. The seven pieces flow with barely any pauses and alternate between composers, maintaining the presumed intent of the album: to sound like a set-long free improv without actually being one. Heberer keeps his quarter-tone trumpet technique generally pure, without only the occasional purr or whoosh included for heft. Hertenstein practices that loose time-keeping soprevalent in Europe that the ignorant use to claim that an entire continent can’t swing. And Niggenkemper, of both French and German background, is equal parts Beb Guérin and Buschi Niebergall, oozing between the cracks offered by his trio mates. Despite being a German trio recording for a Portuguese label, HNH formed in Brooklyn. And now they’re being reviewed by a Russian. If that isn’t an expression of the international nature of jazz, I don’tknow what is.

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