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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

 Free Jazz Blog February 2020

It doesn't take a huge leap of faith to assume that fans of this genre of music have mental lists of favorite musicians who've never received acclaim commensurate with what they perceive to be their talents. The Russian born pianist Simon Nabatov is at the top of my list. Sure his releases receive positive, often glowing, reviews and I've never encountered anyone even slightly dismissive of his technically intricate while still melodically welcoming playing. But I just don't think he's gotten the push his talents merit and he doesn't get mentioned as often in discussions as Schweizer, Crispell or Shipp for example. The first Simon Nabatov Quintet release was the delightful 2001 collection of pieces inspired by sections of the underground Stalin era Russian novel "The Master and Margarita" by Mikhail Bulgakov, a tour de force of literary interpretation. The intervening 18 years have featured mostly smaller groups, primarily on Leo, including other Soviet era literary interpretations, as well as less programmatic undertakings. The current release marks his Clean Feed debut with a different New York centric group of saxophonist Tony Malaby, Brandon Seabrook on guitar, bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Gerald Cleaver. If being on the new label exposes him to new listeners, this would serve as a good introduction to his playing and compositions. The opening cut, Old Fashioned, starts off with a bouncy bop-ish melody after which the piano bass and drums start stretching the boundaries before Seabrook's guitar adds some scratchy discordant figures to produce some tension. Then Malaby's tenor enters with a Charlie Rouse type solo adhering closely to the melody which frees the piano and guitar to chatter at each other. They briefly restate the melody in unison at the 5:30 mark followed by a controlled chaos winding down to a quiet conclusion. Two of the songs seem titled based on Cleaver's drumming: Rickety begins with a clattering rapid stop and go rhythm around which the song is built and Marching Right Along starts with a martial cadence which reoccurs throughout the song alternating with more understated and subdued tempos. Malaby has some fine soprano features in Slow Move and Marching Right Along and Formanek is responsible in Afterwards for getting things moving again after everyone else dropped out. Seabrook's guitar is the wild card in the mix by lobbing electric darts and bombs to keep things from getting too relaxed and serving as a good foil for Nabatov's lyricism. But the leader is in fine form here as well. If his playing isn't as out front as in some of his trio dates (Tough Customer is a particular favorite) he is constantly interesting within the quintet format. So maybe this will raise Simon's critical exposure. Or maybe it was a misapprehension on my part of how he is thought of. I was heartened to see the late Eric Stern included Last Minute Theory in his Best of 2019 list and that he was instrumental in helping Nabatov meet musicians when he first came to New York. I thought of that quite a bit while listening to this.

Stephen Griffith

 The New York City Jazz Record May 2020

On Last Minute Theory, the remarkable quintet is completed by saxophonist Tony Malaby, guitarist Brandon Seabrook, bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Gerald Cleaver, a group ideally suited for the kind of inside-outside compositions Nabatov has crafted for them, at once deeply rooted in jazz traditions and also wildly playful. It’s apparent immediately in “Old Fashioned”, a loping groove with an off-kilter beat thrown in, while “Rickety” further demonstrates the band’s rhythmic aplomb, somehow managing to combine lock-step with the sonic equivalent of Monty Python funny walks. Nabatov likes playing slower as well as faster than most: “Slow Move”, which sounds like secretive birds waking up, is sufficiently slow for the musicians to get out and walk around the notes while “Translated” is a spotlight for Malaby’s warm balladry. “Good Pedigree” layers different densities, seemingly moving at different tempos. The final “Afterwards” is wonderfully weird, beginning as seeming homage to the original Giuseppi Logan Quartet and ending in a zone so refined as to suggest smooth jazz. Seabrook consistently finds voices that are suspended between his alien electronic tones and his partners’ acoustic lines, creating strange ambiguities in the process. There may not be anything left to say about Formanek and Cleaver at this point except that their support and interplay are ideal.

Stuart Broomer

 Squid's Ear February 2020

A journeyman on the international jazz circuit, Simon Nabatov may not be a household name for the average jazz fan, but has been on the radar of the cognoscenti for some time now. Born and raised in Moscow, he relocated with his family in New York in 1979, barely into his twenties. By then, he was thoroughly trained in classical music, but spent most of the next decade furthering his studies at Juilliard and honing his jazz chops at sessions, dues-paying gigs and recording dates around town. Ten years later, he packed up and left for Cologne, his home base to this day. Over the years, he has amassed an impressive discography, not only in numbers but also in scope. For Leo Records, he has produced a string of releases that range from solo covers of Herbie Nichols tunes to programmatic music composed for medium-size ensembles. The present album, issued on the incredibly prolific Portuguese imprint Clean Feed, occurred during a visit back to the pianist's former stomping ground. The cast is as reliable as you can get, the ubiquitous saxman Tony Malaby sounding the charge with the leader, double bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Gerald Cleaver providing loose but cogent backing. Guitarist Brandon Seabrook completes the lineup, though his presence is not felt so much as a soloist but more as a weaver of intriguing layers of synth-like sounds. While capable of playing dazzling runs with razor-sharp precision, Nabatov can approach things in a very understated way. No less engaging is his writing, and all eight pieces contained on this 50-minute side show his considerable range in that department. There is something very visceral to the music, a kind of rough-and-tumble approach that has that Gotham City grist to it. From the onset, the band drops the gloves, the opening track title "Old Fashioned" somewhat at odds with the rough-edged jazz stylings of the piece (no relation here to the standard "I'm Old Fashioned) ". But all is not brawn, there are plenty of brains as well, especially in the more restrained moments. For one, the aptly titled second cut "Slow Move" appears suspended in time, with an austere atmosphere driven by spiky chords. (as quoted from the uncredited liner notes.) More ballad-like, "Translated" evokes the dreamy feel of the musical worlds of the great late drummer Paul Motian with whom Nabatov recorded [...] in 1985. Elsewhere, such as the third track "Rickety", the playing is sparse at first, only to morph into some heated collective improv in the middle and some grooving piano figures to wind it down. Conversely, the quintet opens the floodgates in the final cut "Afterwards", but brings it down with a bass solo and some peaceful song-like phrases disrupted by the guitarist's only solo of the set, and a quirky one at that. When considering great jazz recordings from the past, one of their hallmarks was that sense of loose togetherness they had, where the music was never too slick for its own good. This recording is a reminder of that, and, come to think of it, that may well justify the title of that first number after all. And the liner notes imply that, too: "The album opens with the nostalgic stroll "Old Fashioned". The band gets into a leisurely stride, with a few odd bars to the tune to assure a slightly stumbling effect along the way." Couldn't have described it better myself!

Marc Chénard

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.

Improjazz France September 2020  

Simon Nabatov enregistre beaucoup (moins qu'Ivo Perelman toutefois) et c'est son droit. Le voici, aujourd'hui, à la tête d'un quintet comPrenant le saxophoniste Tony Malaby, le guitariste Brandon Seabrook, le contrebassiste Michael Formanek et le batteur Gerald Cleaver, formation première classe pour un disque qui l'est tout autant. Ici, sans parler de déconstruction, on notera le tangage souvent dangereux de la rythmique avec cette impression que tout pourrait basculer dans un beau désordre. Et parfois, cela arrive. Même les ballades ne sont pas sans risque (harmoniques acides du saxophoniste, écarts saccadés, harmonie en contre-jour). Idem pout certaines rYthmiques tarabiscotées et toujours menacées par le déséquilibre. Tony Malaby distribue quelques fiels dont il a le secret, Gerald Cleaver maintient le déséquilibre avec brio, Michael Formanek assure la liaison entre tous, Simon Nabatov fait acte de fougue et de turbulences, Quant au guitariste Brandon Seabrook, il fait figure d'OVNI insaisissable car on ne sait pas trop s'il joue de la guitare ou d'electronics tant ses sonorités résultent singulières et inattendues. Un mystère non élucidé mais un très bon Nabatov. Comme d'habitude.

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

Salt Peanuts November 2019 

Det sies at kvintettformatet er den russiske pianisten Simon Nabatovs favrittformat når det skal utøves god musikk. Etter platene «Master and Margarita», «Roundup» og «Readings» med amerikanske og europeiske musikere, har han denne gangen valgt blant de beste innenfor faget blant New Yorks mange musikere. Han har samlet saksofonisten Tony Malaby, gitaristen Brandon Seabrook, bassisten Michael Formanek og trommeslageren Gerald Cleaver i studio i Brooklyn, hvor de innhentede musikerne har hatt kort reiseavstand, til denne sessionen, og vi får sju komposisjoner av Nabatov. Simon Nabatov er født den 11. januar 1959 i Moskva. Hans far, Leon, var profesjonell pianist og kordirigent. Simon begynte å spille piano allerede da han var tre år, og skrev sin første komposisjon da han var seks. Han fattet beslutningen om å bli en hardtarbeidende jazzmusiker etter å ha vært på konsert med Duke Ellington i Moskva i 1971, og derfra og fram til i dag, har han vært en svært hardtarbeidende pianist og komponist, som i 1980 flyttet over «dammen» for å studere ved Julliard. Her fikk han øyne og ører opp for avant-garde-musikken, etter å ha spilt med avant-garde-danseren Kazuo Ohno under en forestilling i 1981. Etter det har han utgitt en haug med plater, med musikere som Michael Moore, Nils Wogram, Phil Minton, Mark Helias, Barry Altschul, Tom Rainey, Herb Robertson, Mark Feldman, Drew Gress, Han Bennink, Ernst Reijseger, Rudi Mahall. Mark Dresser, Akira Sakata og mange flere, husker jeg best møtet med han på en festival i Frankrike, hvor han spilte solopiano inne i en slags katakombe. En konsert som satte varige spor i en relativ ung, norsk sjel. Sammen med sine amerikanske venner har han laget en plate med musikk som man skal sette seg ned og lytte nøye til. De sju komposisjonene er ingen enkel sak å komme seg gjennom, hvis man ikke forsøker å komme «inn i» hva som foregår. Mest publikumsvennlig er kanskje tredjesporet «Rickety», med en morsom rytmisk figur som musikerne får testet seg i. Alle musikerne bidrar positivt til å gjøre platen spennende, kreativ og variert. Malaby er en saksofonist som aldri gir ved dørene. Ofte kan spillet hans virke litt innadvendt, men gir du han tid, så åpner det seg opp. Seabrook er en gitarist som ikke fremhever seg selv særlig mye på denne innspillingen. Han er der, og bidrar med innspill der han føler det er riktig, mens Formaneks bass alltid er på pletten der han skal. Og bak det hele rettleder den utmerkede trommeslageren Gerald Cleaver de andre med små dytt og innspill som får alle til å bidra positivt. Og i front troner Nabatov med sine finurlige komposisjoner, som altså er litt innadvendte og litt krevende å komme inn i. Men det er noe av det som gjør det spennende med slik musikk. Dess flere ganger man hører disse komposisjonene, dess lenger inn i musikken kommer man, så det blir aldri kjedelig å lytte til.

Jan Granvie

Multikulti Project Poland December 2019 

... unikalny język, który wykształcił Nabatov wart jest najwyższej uwagi. Jego pomysły na budowanie melodii, jej mechanizm i tryby, więcej mają wspólnego z muzyką klasyczną niż jazzem... Nabatov nie zajmuje się sklejaniem, nie łączy klasyki i jazzu, to z jego muzyki rodzi się jazz i klasyka. Tak właśnie, odwraca on kierunek tego wektora, osiągając wielką maestrię... Simon Nabatov Quintet "Last Minute Theory" Clean Feed Records 2019 multikulti.com * * * * *:
Od czasu znakomitego koncertu kwartetu Simona Nabatova z Arthurem Blythe'm w odrapanej sali klubu Eskulap w Poznaniu w 1993, śledzę z uwagą kolejne wiadomości na temat urodzonego w 1959 roku pianisty. Gdy podczas koncertu nastąpił kilkuminutowy blackout, Nabatov jak mistrz ceremonii powiódł zespół dalej, nic sobie nie robiąc z chwilowego braku prądu. A trzeba wiedzieć, że była to przysłowiowa wisienka na przepysznym torcie. Nabatov urodził się w rodzinie artystycznej, ojciec zawodowy moskiewski muzyk, szybko wychwycił niezwykłą muzykalność syna. W wieku trzech lat zaczął grać, w wieku 6 komponować. Uczęszczał więc do moskiewskich konserwatoriów. W młodości podróżował z ojcem po Europie, gdzie świadomie odkrywał język jazzu. Duszna atmosfera ZSRR, w którym artystów samodzielnych represjonowano, szybko okazała się przeszkodą w rozwojowi młodego, improwizującego pianisty o coraz szerszych horyzontach. W wieku 21 lat emigruje z rodziną do USA, gdzie podejmuje studia na słynnym Julliard School Of Music. Potem bieg wydarzeń przyspieszył. Stawał na scenie z kapitalnymi muzykami jak Paul Motian, Tony Scott, Sonny Fortune, Kenny Wheeler, Herb Robertson, Louis Sclavis, Billy Hart, David Murray, Marty Ehrlich, Mark Dresser, Barry Guy, Gerry Hemingway, Attila Zoller, Barry Altschul, Vladimir Tarasov, Ed Schuller, Mark Feldman, Drew Gress, Misha Mengelberg... Przez te lata w moje ręce trafiło kilka znakomitych płyt, by wymienić tylko cztery rewelacje - "Master and Margarita" (Leo Records 2001), "Perpetuum Immobile" (Leo Records 2002), "Upcoming Hurricane" trio Pascal Niggenkemper / Simon Nabatov / Gerald Cleaver (NoBusiness Records 2012) i "Luminous" trio Simon Nabatov / Barry Guy / Gerry Hemingway (NoBusiness Records 2019). Jego najnowsza płyta ukazuje się w barwach Clean Feed Records. Nagrana została z nowojorskimi wyjadaczami - saksofonistą Tony'm Malaby'm, gitarzystą
Brandonem Seabrookiem, kontrabasistą Michaelem Formankiem i drummerem Geraldem Cleaverem. Nagrano ją rok temu w nowojorskim Bunker Studio.
Nabatov prezentuje na niej kunszt mistrzowski, zarówno jako muzyk, który w pełni kontroluje swój instrument, ale przede wszystkim bezdyskusyjnie włada formą, strukturą kompozycji. Pisano o Nabatovie, jako o pianiście, który scalił w jedność akademicką tradycję moskiewskich pianistów i kompozytorów z językiem amerykańskiego jazzu. Wrzucono go tym samym w przegródkę z trzecionurtowcami, w ten sposób wyrządzono jemu, ale przede wszystkim fanom kreatywnego jazzu wielką krzywdę. Bowiem unikalny język, który wykształcił Nabatov wart jest najwyższej uwagi. Jego pomysły na budowanie melodii, jej mechanizm i tryby, więcej mają wspólnego z muzyką klasyczną niż jazzem. W tym artyście pali się nadal młodzieńczy wigor i żywioł, który dał o sobie znać podczas poznańskiego koncertu. Ale co chyba najważniejsze, Nabatov nie zajmuje się sklejaniem, nie łączy klasyki i jazzu, to z jego muzyki rodzi się jazz i klasyka. Tak właśnie, odwraca kierunek tego wektora, osiągając wielką maestrię.
Pięciu wielkich mistrzów jazzu jest tutaj w stanie absolutnej wzajemności, reagują na siebie nawzajem natychmiastową akcją, spontanicznymi partiami solowymi, dzikimi i ognistymi kulminacjami lub subtelnymi minimalistycznymi fragmentami. Cudownie żywe i namiętne improwizacje ozdabiają ten album, niczym freski Piero della Francesca ozdabiają ściany bazyliki S. Francesco w Arezzo. Pierwsza część płyty jest bardziej dynamiczna, pasaże prawej ręki Nabatova, które mkną z prędkością światła to w jedną, to w drugą stronę, innowacyjna i sugestywna technika gry wszystkich instrumentalistów wbija słuchacza w ziemię. Kulminacja następuje w "Rickety", muzycy improwizują z ogniem, pasją i fantazją. Muzyka staje się epicka i duchowa zarazem.
W drugiej części płyty to wielogłos porwanej melancholii, szeroka gama stylów, kolorów i dźwięków. Słyszymy muzyków obdarzonych szeroką wiedzą muzyczną, pełnych woli tworzenia świeżego, nowego i oryginalnego brzmienia. Więcej tutaj pada światła na niuans i subtelny detal. Za każdym razem zespół brzmi efektownie i przekonująco. Można tego słuchać w nieskończoność!

Tomasz Konwent

Expresso January 2020 

Pode ter um título destes à vontade que nem por um segundo sequer se imagina ter sido composto à última da hora. Aliás, não será exagero nenhum afirmar que Nabatov teve de esperar duas décadas para que finalmente se reunissem as condições que lhe permitissem superar o enunciado em “The Master and Margarita” (gravado em 1999, em Colónia, com recurso a um quinteto em que figuravam Herb Robertson, Mark Feldman, Drew Gress e Tom Rainey). Claro que aí, então, a sua escrita seguia embalada pela do romance homónimo de Mikhail Bulgakov, que, por sua vez, sabia já bater o pé ao ritmo deste anda- mento (uma citação: “E exatamente à meia-noite algo estrondou na primeira sala, tilintou, desabou, começou a pular. [...] Era o famoso grupo de jazz [...] que começava a soar. Os rostos cobertos de suor pareciam reluzir, era como se os cavalos desenhados no teto estivessem vivos, as lâmpadas pareciam irradiar mais luz e, de repente, era como se as duas salas tivessem perdido as estribeiras e caído na dança.”). Aqui, agora, este novo quinteto de Nabatov (não menos superlativo do que o outro, constituído por Tony Malaby, Brandon Seabrook, Michael Formanek e Gerald Cleaver) não se vê sustentado de modo intravenoso pela literatura. Ou melhor, tudo nele é mais alusivo e aluado, disfuncional e funambulesco, como quando se aplica o filtro de um filme ao preto e branco das páginas de um livro — e, pondo-o a tocar, o que logo salta à memória é “The Shining” (1980), com aquela música das orquestras de música ligeira dos anos 20 e 30 que se ouvia no seu Salão Dourado a parecer tão anacrónica para a altura quanto neste contexto se prova ser um tema inicial chamado ‘Old Fashio- ned’. Trata-se de um estranhamento que o disco não cessa de articular de maneira narcótica e narcísica — e até quando o cânone se insinua (como em ‘Afterwards’, que cita ‘Inútil Paisagem’, de Jobim) se pressente a insídia, com a guitarra elétrica de Seabrook a ameaçar perder de vez a razão e gritar: “Here’s Johnny!”

João Santos