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"Last Minute Theory" Clean Feed Records 2019

 

 Jazz Trail September 2019

60-year-old Russian-American pianist Simon Nabatov, a champion of multiple collaborations in small-group formats, has been a widely explorative voice within the canons of leading-edge jazz. His first record as a leader on the Lisbon-based label Clean Feed is called Last Minute Theory, in which he leads an extraordinary lineup of New York players such as saxophonist Tony Malaby, guitarist Brandon Seabrook, bassist Michael Formanek, and drummer Gerald Cleaver. The album features seven Nabatov originals and presents less ambiguity than it was expected, reshaping musical traditions to create new ones. Still, even providing accessible rides, a strong improvisatory mindset prevails throughout. That fact can be immediately confirmed on “Old Fashioned”, an uncompromisingly swinging piece that, despite perfectly structured with a Mengelberg-like theme and well-defined melodies, embraces a provocative disposition. That sense of freedom is perfectly illustrated by Malaby’s searing impressions and Nabatov’s strong melodic figures and neo-noir chordal movements. On top of this, there’s the tense, dissonant, and always interesting comping from Seabrook, who also delivers an unconventional electronics-drenched solo. At the tail end of this trip, a vamp displays the supple rhythm section producing some steam. “Rickety” is another lively piece launched with the magical rhythm imposed by Cleaver, dark-toned saxophone proclamations, and a non-conflicting combination of guitar and piano, all immersed in details and embellishments. The music then converges into a danceable groove with Cleaver and Formanek bringing a one-of-a-kind propulsion to the tune. Both the texture and the beautifully spiky ostinatos won’t leave anyone indifferent. The bubbling, spot-on snare drum procession that gives “Marching Right Along” its personality is interrupted at some point by a carefree collective stretch. This is not a rambunctious effort. Neither a sluggish one. The group was in many ways more reflective on the brooding musical nebula called “Translated” and especially “Slow Move”, a vaporous exercise featuring Malaby's soprano abstractions, here closely followed by Nabatov’s vigilant pianism. Abounding in rhythmic figures, the pianist’s captivating vocabulary catalyzes avant-garde dilatations on “Good Pedigree”, which evolves with musing and reasoning on one side, and tautness and friction on the other. The tension created here is taken further on the closing track, “Afterwards”, a recipient of electrifying timbral exploration and finely-tuned harmonic construction. Whereas Malaby blows wildly and creates turbulence with his colleagues in activity, an unaccompanied Formanek lets his ideas take a natural course. The intensity is then readjusted to something sleeker, in an odd-metered cyclic passage, which not even Seabrook’s striking dissonances were able to subvert. Nabatov’s consistently evolving musical vision has here a great outcome. The group operates with a steady hand when necessary, but also emancipates itself through an astonishing mobility.

Filipe Freitas

The Stash Dauber August 2019 

Simon Nabatov Quintet's Last Minute Theory features an all-star cast (Tony Malaby, Brandon Seabrook, Michael Formanek, Gerald Cleaver) supporting a Russian emigre pianist who spent most of the '80s in NYC before decamping to Germany at the end of the decade. While Nabatov's known as a free player, it's his compositions, which vary in mood and tempo as they move between "straight ahead" and "outside" -- sometimes within the same piece -- that are the focus here. Malaby, whose work as a sideman I've always preferred to any of his own dates (perhaps I just haven't heard the right ones?) performs sensitively on tenor and soprano, while Seabrook's subtly eccentric guitarisms provide the chaos factor, but all the players are stellar and work well together, whether on the appropriately-titled "Slow Move," the Latin-tinged "Rickety," the "out" parade music of "Marching Right Along," or the ruminative ballad "Translated." Highly recommended.

August 31 2019 

A group that swings, but with a nice modern edge – sometimes more rhythmically forward, other times letting the melodic elements set the stage – all under the great direction of pianist Simon Nabatov, who leads a group with Tony Malaby on tenor and soprano sax, Brandon Seabrook on guitar, Michael Formanek on bass, and Gerald Cleaver on drums! Malaby's raw tones provide a great edge without ever going too far, and Cleaver sounds more inventive here than ever – really raising our interest in his music. The group perform all original numbers by Nabatov – and titles include "Rickety", "Slow Move", "Marching Right Along", and "Translated".

Dusty Groove

Jazz and Blues Blogpost August 2019 

Simon Nabatov is a well regarded Russian - American jazz pianist who has made scores of records, primarily on the English Leo label, but here bouncing to the excellent Portuguese outfit Clean Feed for this meeting with American heavyweights Tony Malaby on tenor and soprano saxophones, Brandon Seabrook on guitar, Michael Formanek on bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums. The music was recorded in September of 2018 in Brooklyn and begins with "Old Fashioned," which has a deep and rich swinging sound, and medium tempo with some cascading piano and clusters of saxophone moving around thick bass and grounded drumming. Squiggles of guitar electronics break things up a little bit as the saxophone drops out and the piano trio takes off for a stellar feature. Malaby's saxophone returns along with the jolts of electronics giving the music a delightfully skewed nature while still remaining a strong identity of its own, as droplets of pure electronic sound rain down amid the saxophone, coalescing into a more recognizable electric guitar sound, allowing the full band improvisation to gain a more intense feeling toward the end of the performance grinding relentlessly toward the conclusion of this successful piece. Light and loose percussion and guitar give "Rickety" it's skittish sensibility in terms of rhythm, with and saxophone fluttering this way and that, sounding like one of the freest performances on the album. Malaby's tenor is deep and wide, providing a focal point for the music, abetted by snarls of guitar, clusters of piano and free floating percussion. The music gains a momentum that hustles forward in an impressive collective improvisation, where everybody has an individualistic sound, but is using it to pull in the same direction for exciting and unexpected results. The band develops a rich and colorful palate and uses this to create a wonderful spontaneously created performance. "Marching Right Along" uses a very interesting rattling drum solo to open the performance along a martial beat, with the rest of the band eventually falling in line for a melodic opening. Malaby moves to soprano saxophone, giving the music a more wistful sound, around the crisp drum centered performance. The group tumbles into a free improvisation of varied shades and colors between saxophone, guitar and piano, giving the overall performance a aura that is kaleidoscopic in nature, becoming very free as the drums add waves of cymbal play and the saxophone screeches. The drums finally call everyone back into line around the marching beat and then leads them off into the conclusion of the song.

Tim Niland

Avantscena August 2019 

“Last Minute Theory” is a new release of “Clean Feed Records”. Album was recorded by “Simon Nabatov Quintet” – it’s Tony Malaby (tenor and soprano saxophones), Brandon Seabrook (guitar), Michael Formanek (double bass), Gerald Cleaver (drums) and Simon Nabatov (piano). The quintet has a remarkable, expressive and dynamic sound. Each member of this quintet is featured and talented improviser who has much experience in improvising. The improvisers are improvising and collaborating with other famous jazz stars – they’re the central figures of world-wide experimental jazz scene. Expression, drive, avility to connect together absolutely different compounds, techniques, textures and timbres, innovative point of view, wide musical knownledge and fantastic playing technique are the main reasons why these musicians are so famous. All their music is based on free improvisation. The streams of American and European experimental jazz are gently combined together – the innovations and roots of avant-garde jazz gently correspond to each other. The musicians succesfully manage to respond to each other’s playing – maybe that’s the main reason, why their music has effective, bright, unpredictable and sparkling sound. “Last Minute Theory” is dynamic, moving and wild. Five great jazz masters gently fit together – they are responding to each other’s playing with fantastic immediate responses, spontaneous solos, wild free and terrific culminations or subtle minimalistic samples. Wide musical knownledge, evocative decisions, innovative and suggestive playing technique, wide range of styles, colors and sounds, expression, drive and the will to create fresh, new and original sound – all these elements are organically integrated to the musical pattern. It’s rich, expressive and polyphonic. Individual melodies are created by each jazz master – it’s inspiring, thrilling and striking for the most of the time. Solid, vibrant and dynamic melody line is illustrated by energetic and bright rhythmic section, universal and simply amazing instrumental section, colorful background and expressive harmonic section. All music is based on open form, free improvisation, the innovations of avant-garde and experimental jazz. Musicians also don’t hesitate to make strange, evocative, provocative or completely crazy musical decisions or get on ambitious and adventurous sonoristic experiments. The improvisers don’t forget the roots and main basics of avant-garde jazz – the main elements of 1960’s and 1970’s avant-garde jazz are frequently integrated to musical pattern. An impression and spontanity are the main principes of improvising – musicians are improvising with drive, energy, passion and fantasy. Their music is a great compilation of thousands of colors, sounds, characters and timbres. The melody line is the key of the compositions. It dictates the main mood of album – the music is driving, dynamic, expressive and based on active mood. Saxophone’s tunes by Tony Malaby are presenting bright, fresh and evocative sound. Sharp, aggressive and growling tunes, rigorous and frantic riffs, passionate, wild and expressive melodies, transcendental passages, gentle and soft excerpts, lyrical contemplations or silent pauses. Hot thrills, full blasts of energy, perturbating sessions are bright accents of whole melody line. That makes an effort to dynamic and exclusive saxophone’s tunes. Guitar tunes by Brandon Seabrook are dynamic and moving. Improviser masterfully combines together sonoristic experiments, dynamic and expressive melodies, dark and heavy downs, lyrical pauses or strange sounds. The guitar improvisations have suggestive and modern sound – sonoristic experiments, expansion of technical abilities, timbral and instrumental innovations and spontaneous surprises are the main elements of it. Trendy, moving and sparkling riffs, roaring and wild sessions, breaking perturbating series, light, subtle and lyrical excerpts, expressive, charming and driving melodies – all these elements gently fit together in Simon Nabatov’s piano improvisations. Hypnotising, impressive and dynamic sound is created. Stable and deep bass line is formed by Michael Formanek. It’s formed by repetitive tunes longly-repeated one after the other. Michael Formanek is a master of his art – he fuses together academical, experimental and classical playing techniques, special effects, research of strange timbres or evocative decisions, sparkling and thrilling culminations, calm relaxing pauses or vivid, elegant and light excerpts. An organic synthesis of all these elements helps the musican to create exceptional and dynamic sound. Hysteric complicated series of bebop, aggressive hard bop, transcendental passages, sudden ascendings and descendings, immediate jumps from the one mood to the other, perturbating and simply amazing sessions – all these elements are masterfully combined together in effective and impressive drums section by Gerald Cleaver. The music of this album has a remarkable and expressive sound.

Diario de Queretaro August 2019 

… llega la recompensa a través de la marca portuguesa Clean Feed que en esta mitad de 2019 invita a la escucha de la nueva grabación de Simon Nabatov bajo el nombre de Simon Nabatov Quintet - Last Minute Theory, que empieza con un tema engañoso Old fashioned, bajo el manto rítmico del swing ¿Huele a convencionalidad? Por supuesto que no, las líneas melódicas y armonías se empiezan a desarrollar a los cuantos minutos en off bajo la misma rítmica pujante, aparecen extraños sonidos que no se alcanza a comprender de donde provienen, entonces se busca quiénes acompañan a Nabatov en este viaje, aparece el nombre del saxofonista Tony Malaby, ¡oh sorpresa! el hiperkinético guitarrista Brandon Seabrook, quien es capaz de extraer sonidos sorprendentes a su guitarra en un contexto normalmente salvaje de punk rock, aquí totalmente contenido. Se descubren de inmediato el nombre de contrabajista Michael Formanek y finalmente el del baterista Gerald Cleaver, todos ellos provenientes del ámbito neoyorkino. Por cierto, no se había olvidado, efectivamente esos sonidos extraños provienen de Seabrook en una de sus primeras incursiones, no podría ser otro. El segundo tema es de una extraña belleza, donde el saxofón soprano de Malaby sirve de guía para lucir la composición y dirección de Nabatov. Existe mucho de escritura en esta grabación y quietud desacostumbrada en este joven-viejo, gordo y maravilloso pianista. "El formato de quinteto es el favorito para el pianista Simon Nabatov. Después de (los discos) Master y Margarita, Roundup and Readings con músicos estadounidenses y europeos, aquí hay uno nuevo con los mejores músicos de Nueva York Tony Malaby, Brandon Seabrook, Michael Formanek y Gerald Cleaver. Un par de minutos después de presionar Reproducir para escuchar esta Teoría de los últimos minutos, descubres que este no es solo un quinteto más, sino un nuevo paso en la evolución de un concepto musical que cruza una comprensión muy particular de lo que significa tocar música de fuego con motivos y estructuras de música clásica. En este disco, sientes la energía de la Gran Manzana actual, pero también el alma vieja de Rusia, ya sea en los momentos en que la música se vuelve épica y espiritual o en aquellos en los que los matices, la sutileza y los detalles son el foco principal, a veces pasando de uno de estos enfoques al otro en solo unos segundos. Nunca sabes qué esperar, solo que te sorprenderán, engañarán y desafiarán, todos esos sentimientos positivos que te mantienen alerta y vivo ...” A partir de ahí en minutos discurren los demás temas sin poder darse cuenta conscientemente, con una fluidez impresionante. Esta música abstrae, concluyendo que es un disco hermosamente poético, con aristas de enorme lirismo, la estructura no se escapa de la improvisación, es una dialógica constante entre dos lenguajes que se complementan en un acto creativo circular. Existe calma y fiereza controlada, elegancia e introspección. Simon ha dado un paso más allá de sus fronteras, ha realizado una grabación preciosamente contenida y equilibrada, dejando la idea que ha escogido especialmente a estos músicos para ser vehículo de su concepto musical. ¡Bienvenido Simon Nabatov! ¡La inmensa minoría lo agradecemos! La historia continuará…

Daniel Barbiero

Netlavisen Norway September 2019 

Nabatov har tilbragt flere år i New York som student, men er nå altså bosatt i Köln. Han har holdt kontakten med NY-miljøet samtidig som han samarbeider med musikere over store deler av Europa. Nok en fellesnevner med Niescier er trommeslageren Cleaver - så avgjort en av The Big Apples aller mest lyttende og spennende i faget. I tillegg bidrar bassist Michael Formanek, tenor- og sopransaksofonist Tony Malaby og gitarist Brandon Seabrook til å løfte de sju Nabatov-komposisjonene. Cleaver har Nabatov jobba med tidligere mens de tre andre er «nykommere» når det gjelder å spille sammen med pianisten som skriver personlig, melodisk og utfordrende musikk for noen av New Yorks aller beste musikanter fra underskogen. Malaby jobba jo i si tid med med legenden Paul Motian og musikken Nabatov skriver er absolutt i slekt med Motians univers.

Tor Hammerø