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"Extensions" Unbroken Sounds Records 2023



Downtown Music Gallery September 2023

Russian/American pianist, Simon Nabatov, is one of the most prolific and creative avant/jazz pianists that I’ve heard. Starting around 1988, Mr. Nabatov has more than 50 discs as a leader which are found on labels like Leo, Clean Feed & NoBusiness. He works with European and American musicians, playing in solos, duos, trios, quartets and more. Mr. Nabatov has been residing in Koln, Germany for a number of years and recording with musicians from that area. For this session, Nabatov has organized a fine sextet of musicians from Köln, none of whose names I recognize, although each one can be found on discs listed on Discogs. This disc was recorded live in Salon de Jazz in Cologne on October of 2022. The sextet starts off slowly and builds over time, the horns on top and the piano, 2 basses & drums swirling underneath. The overall vibe is calm and the band take their time to ascend, things getting more intense as they go. Mr. Nabatov is a powerful inventive pianist who always does a good job of pushing his band members higher. Both the soprano sax and trombone sound engaged and inspired, more simmering going on than very many eruptions. Drummer Maria Portugal sounds great on mallets towards the end of „Extension 1“, keeping a pulse going as they all flow together, solemn ghosts dancing in slow motion. The sextet comes together even more on „Extension 2“, with some strong interaction going on throughout. Mr. Nabatov’s sprawling piano is the centering force here, balancing the rhythm team with the horns just right. The excitement factor keeps escalating throughout this piece, with the basses buzzing underneath. It often sounds like this group has been playing together for a long while since everything here flows organically from section to section. This is one of the best and most focused improv discs I’ve heard recently.

Bruce Lee Gallanter


The New York City Jazz Record Januar 2024

Taking a break from his ambitious series of program music albums, russian-american pianist Simon nabatov (who turns 65 this month) invited five other Köln-based musicians to participate in this two-part improvisation, which features all of the freedom but none of the formalism of his compositional work. There’s no slackening of sonic invention in this group composition, however, and that’s because the pianist’s ensemble consists of players whose musical latitude is almost as broad as his. The band is multinational. Saxophonist Sebastian Gille, who maneuvers between emotional coloration and technical experimentation, is German, as is bassist David Holm, who splits arco and pizzicato rhythms and asides with Iranian-German bassist reza askari. Trombonist Shannon Barnett, whose strategy encompasses plunger smears and melodic embellishments, is Australian, while drummer Mariá Portugal, who prefers subtlety to thundering, is Brazilian. Both tracks roam through multiple interludes. These include hubs of crunching power impelled by dual bass thumps and percussion patterns; dramatic pivots from reed bites to slurs; trombone tongue flutters; and energetic note-fanning from the keyboard. Focused horizontal thematic development maintains linear consistency while allowing for individual experimentation. However, it’s the slightly briefer “Extension 2” which is more suite-like, emphasizing cadenced and compositional shifts. Introduced a capella by harsh tenor saxophone growls and split tones, the exposition is stimulated to a quicker pace once forearm smashes along the keyboard, thick bass string plucks and irregular reed vibrations are heard. yet the piece soon slows down to trombone moans and double bass strums. nabatov then alters the aural scenery by introducing a processional melody surrounded by basso snarls from the trombonist and smeary vibrations from Gille’s soprano, as one bassist strums his strings and the other bows alongside. By the finale, the theme (which the pianist has almost unobtrusively preserved throughout) rises above tart brass tongue flutters, reed twitters and sul tasto string scrubs. In this respite from his program music, Nabatov shows no lessening of his musical vision.

Ken Waxman