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"Upcoming Hurricane" NoBusiness Records 2011


All About Jazz Nov. 2011

Free jazz trios require an instigator—someone who will incite others to action, counteraction, or response. With the trio of double bassist Pascal Niggenkemper, Simon Nabatov, and Gerald Cleaver, there are three such instigators, and on Upcoming Hurricane, these three musicians collaborate to create nearly a perfect storm.
A relative newcomer, German-born Niggenkemper invited the two veterans for this improvisation session, and as such, he is the architect of these tracks. Certainly, his bass stands up as an equal voice here, opening the disc with swirling bow work on "Pusteblume," with Nabatov's piano detonated first from the inside (strings), then with some contemplative wondering at the keys; this coming together through mushrooming energy is an appealing feature throughtout. Cleaver's scavenging work at his kit can take on "found sounds," like that of hubcaps and wind chimes, on "Fighting The Mill"; like his work in Farmers By Nature, with William Parker and Craig Taborn, Cleaver shifts from minimalist to thunderous fomenter with ease. But, then, so can Nabatov. The pianist, whose previous work with the drummers such as Tom Rainey, Paul Lovens, and Michael Sarin, can approach these interactions with the scrabble of horn player and the painter-like qualities of a stringed instrument. The delicacy of his playing balances Niggenkemper's fiery momentum and Cleaver's decorations.
The best example of this group's facility is on the nearly 12-minutes title track, where the trio builds a dense, layered, and ever-increasingly energized sound that morphs constantly into a thunderhead. The brewing tempest has Nabatov favoring left hand rumblings, Niggenkemper the reverberations of energy from bowed and plucked strings, and Cleaver a churning surge of power. It is a masterpiece of instant composition.

Mark Corroto

JazzWrap December 2011

...the new album, Upcoming Hurricane, pretty much says it all. This is a heavy storm of sound that comes on quietly but resonates brightly over 60+ minutes.

Clean, open and improvised, Niggenkemper is a brilliant performer but more importantly an astute and crafty composer and leader. Niggenkemper's idea of space, wind and earth as a theme for exploring music is embedded throughout this session.

The title track comes rolling in like a swarm of bees. The addition of Simon Nabatov (piano) provides a deeper and introspective outlook than PN Trio which was sax, bass and drums. Nabatov's free formed pounding keys intersect with Cleaver's pulsating drums and Niggenkemper's expertly dense bowed bass making for an intense listen. But it unfolds beautifully in all its clattering glory. There is a rising tempo that reaches an epic two thirds of the way through that you have to really hold on tight because things could get out of hand. And suddenly all three musicians release you as if you were never there.

"Arbol de piedra" reverses the setting. It's a piece with a lot of space and room for each member to interpret freely. Cleaver touches around the outside of Nabatov exploratory notes. While Niggenkemper floats in and out of the melody with dreamlike quality. It's piece that allows the listen to think a dwell and become absorbed into the spaces between the notes. 
"Fighting The Mill" is Niggenkemper's piece. ... Nabatov and Cleaver add the chaos to talented bassist's more cerebral movements on this number. The storm hits midway through as the trio goes off in different directions while somehow still holding your attention as to what the next note might be.

Exquisite execution by composer and trio.

Stephan Moore


The New York Jazz Records January 2012

Spontaneity is enhanced by inspiration. That’s what bassist Pascal Niggenkemper proves with this CD, an original take on the classic jazz piano trio, recorded in one session in Cologne. The symmetry maintained between linear harmony and fanciful abstractions demonstrated on the seven tracks is also a result of the equilibrium maintained among the bassist and his associates - sidemen isn’t the word - who singly and together have been on hundreds of records.
Detroit-born drummer Gerald Cleaver usually works with sound explorers such as saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell and bassist William Parker, although his past experience includes gigging with mainstream piano masters such as Tommy Flanagan. No slouch on the keyboard himself, Russian-born, Cologne-based Simon Nabatov is a mercurial pianist, whose extended 10-year New York stint means he’s as likely to work regularly with Americans like drummer Tom Rainey as Europeans like saxophonist Frank Gratkowski. Niggenkemper, of French-German descent though now a New York resident, is a member of several combos of unconventional instrumentation, so it’s instructive to note how his tough Mingus-styled string pops and scrubbed multiphonics fit in this traditional setting.
Very well, it turns out, since Niggenkemper gives free reign to everyone’s inventions, especially the pianist. Nabatov’s strategy for “Fighting the Mill”, for instance, involves tremolo rumbles plus strummed inner strings that mesh with woody bass rubs and off- handed syncopation. With all three playing continuously, Nabatov manages to create a lyrical narrative concurrent with skittering dynamics that would give Cecil Taylor pause.<...>

Ken Waxman


All About Jazz Feb. 2012

Since German/French bassist Pascal Niggenkemper moved to New York in 2005 he has become increasingly prominent on the contemporary scene. Alliances with Thomas Heberer’s Clarino on Klippe (Clean Feed, 2011), Joe Hertenstein’s HNH (Clean Feed, 2010), the cooperative polylemma (Red Toucan, 2011), and Jean Carla Rodea’s Azares, with whom he appeared at the 2010 Vision Festival, ensure a busy diary. Fortunately he still found time to wax Upcoming Hurricane with an accomplished multinational cast, completed by Russian pianist Simon Nabatov and American drummer Gerald Cleaver.
Natural world metaphors come easily to mind when discussing the disc, helped not only by the suggestive title, but also the organically unfolding flow spread across the seven wholly improvised cuts. In spite of the bassist's name on the marquee, it's an egalitarian affair: no-one dominates and there are almost no solos. Cleaver comes closest with a throbbing polyrhythmic barrage to close out "Fighting the mill," but even here dark piano chords add subtle counterpoint. All three are highly attuned to one another, united in unspoken synergy, whether in delicate colloquy or in furious extremis.
Niggenkemper's wiry presence holds it all together, his subterranean rumble transmuting at times into propulsive thrum, though he is at his most individual with his expressive bow work. On piano, Nabatov wields his prodigious technique judiciously for maximum effect, with a two-handed independence reminiscent of Craig Taborn (another frequent Cleaver collaborator), pitching sparkling runs against marching arpeggios on "Aeolus." Cleaver trades in indeterminate rustling noise for much of the time, recalling his expressionistic displays with Farmers By Nature, but when animated, as on the title track, his drums tumble headlong alongside a quickening cymbal fizz.
Contrasting programming ensures that the band covers a wide emotional range, from the mysterious stirrings of "Pustelblume" to the impending storm and choppy density of the standout "Upcoming hurricane." In a typical change of pace, the following "Arbol de piedra" essays spare balladry, while elsewhere the contrapuntally careering "Rahonavis" precedes "Mongolfière," initially spacey before gaining in both mass and momentum, abetted by Nabatov’s locomotive left hand. Niggenkemper has carved out a very strong outing, and raises hopes that this isn’t a one-off agglomeration.

John Sharpe


The New York City Jazz Record June 2012

Another entry into the Top 10 list was Upcoming Hurricane, the trio of bassist Pascal Niggenkemper, pianist Simon Nabatov and drummer Gerald Cleaver (NN&C!). Nabatov was making a rare visit to the city where he lived during the ‘80s and Brooklyn’s Korzo hosted what was effectively the release party for the NoBusiness disc. Collectively, this trio also has a number of influences upon which to draw: Nabatov’s alternately classical or free style, Niggenkemper ’s thick Buschi Niebergall-esque plucking or Barre Phillips-ian extended techniques and Cleaver ’s inherent groove no matter to what abstraction his playing veers. An uninterrupted, hour-long set was presented to a refreshingly full house and the group’s name became prescient. Skittering drums, sharply bowed prepared bass and inside piano were the first signs of the imminent storm. Later an odd drone was flavored by Nabatov’s rising squall and then an insistent pulse from Niggenkemper and Cleaver was answered by classical flourishes. Piano trios throughout history were obliquely referenced, such as Cecil Taylor, Paul Bley and Bill Evans, demonstrating an impressive range of moods and textures. The term “instant composing” is often misused in discussing aimless
improvising but Upcoming Hurricane worked with definite structure and purpose in mind, covering a remarkable amount of territory, eventually moving to close the set with a composed theme, Niggenkemper ’s
“MEM”, classical étude meeting jazz waltz.  (AH)

Andrey Henkin


Free Jazz Blog July 2012

One of the great things of having more people to review all the albums that land on Stef’s desk is that less great music falls through the cracks. This is what nearly happened to one of my favorite 2011 records, Pascal Niggenkemper’s “Upcoming Hurricane”. Here Niggenkemper, one of the most virtuosic and promising bass players of the younger improv generation, is joined by Simon Nabatov on piano and Gerald Cleaver on drums and together they have created one of the most fascinating piano trio albums I have heard in the last few years.

In the end “Upcoming Hurricane” is a marvelous album about the wind as a creative and destructive force. It begins with “Pusteblume” (the German word for dandelion clock), which sounds like a swarm of bees on a summer meadow.  Niggenkemper is developing the track with an arco introduction accompanied by Cleaver just using his brush, the atmosphere is peaceful and quiet until Nabatov enters the scene. He is playing inside the piano and the whole sound changes immediately, he drops the notes like spots – there is still a summer breeze but it announces something dark.

And this is about to happen in the title track. Obviously a gloomy danger is on the way, Nabatov is playing clusters in the low registers (and he will hardly leave them during the entire piece) and Niggenkemper is supporting him while Cleaver is being jolty and spurring on at the same time. The album has been compared to “Money Jungle”, the seminal album by Ellington, Mingus and Roach. But especially this track reminds me more of Cecil Taylor’s Feel Trio as to improvisation, profoundness, ingenuity, and vision. It is the central piece of the album, it is impulsive, powerful and energetic, often close to the edge of falling apart (but of course it never does).

The next track “Arbol de Piedra” (Stone Tree) refers to a natural miracle in Bolivia where the wind has created a strange rock formation. Compared to the preceding track it is completely lyrical, actually lovely and charming with a recurring piano theme, as if nature was recovering from the hurricane. But the image is deceptive, dissonant piano sounds contradict the idyllic scenery.

“Aeolus” (the god of winds in Greek mythology) clearly uses composed elements, with Nabatov playing a theme he takes on at the end of the track. The group takes off for a wild ride here representing all different aspects of the wind - swirling, dancing, ripping, menacing. While this is clearly Nabatov’s track (with a lot of Taylor reminiscences again), “Fighting the Mill” belongs to Niggenkemper. At first the track follows a similar structure as “Pusteblume” starting with a mumbling bass before the others fall in transforming it into a massive natural monolith. It changes its structure every now and then, moving in different directions, hitting the listener with immensely heavy piano clusters, growling angrily in guttural fashion. The final track, “Mongolfière”, refers to the inventors of hot-air balloons and tells us about man’s adventure with the wind when he uses it to fly, in these days a rather anxious, albeit fascinating ride on the element. Again you can hear the Feel Trio - and you are listening to a brilliant unit, there is perfect interaction, freedom, and vitality.

Pascal Niggenkemper said that playing together with Nabatov and Cleaver was “a step to free myself up and to give the listener something that can't be measured or evaluated, with no pre-thoughts or compositions or grids. I need to go beyond that. This is a record that follows intuition.” The music speaks for itself.

Martin Schray

Toma Jazz Spain Nov. 2011

El contrabajista Pascal Niggenkemper ha estado muy activo durante los últimos meses (discográficamente hablando), participando en unas cuantas grabaciones de distintos proyectos como los tríos HNH, Minerva y Clarino, o el cuarteto Polylemma. A todas esas grabaciones hay que añadir Upcoming Hurricane, publicada a su nombre por el sello lituano NoBusiness Records en la que le acompañan el pianista Simon Nabatov y el baterista Gerald Cleaver.

Los tres músicos forman una unidad orgánica que trabaja, salvo en uno de los temas, creando unas improvisaciones con tal sentido melódico que en algún momento parecen más bien temas escritos que composiciones instantáneas. En ello ayudan los dos acompañantes de Niggenkemper: el ruso Simon Nabatov es un veterano curtido en mil batallas, mientras que Gerald Cleaver es un todo terreno con una gran hoja de servicios.

Por encima de otras consideraciones resalta la gran variedad que presenta la música que aparece en esas improvisaciones: abstracta en un momento, puede ser lírica en el siguiente, alternando en el mismo tema una gran intensidad con el sentido de ligereza que aportan los espacios. Incluso alguno de los temas finaliza con un tremendo groove. El trío maneja con maestría las transiciones entre esos momentos tan variados.

El siguiente elemento a considerar son los músicos, artífices de lo anterior gracias a sus magníficas maneras. Estas no se hacen patentes únicamente en sus solos, sino sobre todo gracias a la interacción entre los tres, que no cesa en su búsqueda en ningún momento. El resultado de su arte es una magnífica grabación de improvisaciones libres que no obvian su vertiente melódica.

Pachi Tapiz

Scrivere di Jazz Nov. 2011

Il nome ne rivela le origini europee ma il contrabbassista, franco-teutonico, Pascal Niggenkemper  oggi è cittadino newyorkese e musicista rappresentativo di quella metropoli dove è  arrivato nel 2005 per proseguire i suoi studi al Manhattan School of Music con Jay Anderson grazie ad un premio DAAD concesso quell’anno dal governo tedesco  e dove ha conseguito successivamente il Diploma Master in Music Performance.

Scrivo di lui perché mi è pervenuta da qualche settimana la sua ultima produzione discografica che segna un’altra tappa importante nella sua attività, da sempre intensa, malgrado i trentatreanni della sua giovane età, che lo ha visto membro della Henry Mancini  Institut di Los Angeles nel 2006 nonché componente di gruppi  di musicisti a fianco di Maria  Schneider, Vince Mendoza e Gonzalo Rubalcaba. A New York,  Niggenkemper è già stato parte di un trio con Robin Verheyen e Tyshawn Sorey, mentre in questo cd, uscito a settembre per l’etichetta NoBusiness, lo ritroviamo con Simon Nabatov al pianoforte e Gerand Cleaver alla batteria. Due musicisti dediti a frequentazioni d’avanguardia e quindi in ideale sinergia con la tendenziale scelta musicale che anche il contrabbassista ha operato in questi ultimi anni. La sobrietà della copertina che accompagna il cd dà già un’idea di ciò che le sette tracce da lì a poco esprimeranno ovvero un’essenzialità jazzistica che non concede nulla all’estetica formale e che invece risulta fortemente votata ad instaurare una fitta interazione.

Il dialogo  si esplica a volte attraverso un  dilagante e magmatico  incedere nervoso, che ha in Cleaver un esaltante dispensatore di ritmi africaneggianti, altre volte creando scarni ambiti dialettici pervasi da reminiscenze classiche europee di cui il pianismo di Nabatov è intriso. In entrambe le condizioni Niggenkemper si mostra non solo a suo agio ma anche stimolato con tutto il suo preponderante campionario inventivo che lo strumento gli consente di esprimere senza dimenticare di rivelare, che ancor prima di dedicarsi al contrabbasso, è stato in tenera età pianista e violinista. Con cotanta dote innata e con il contributo di musicisti come Nabatov e Cleaver, Niggenkemper, ha realizzato una delle produzioni più interessanti di questi ultimi mesi, oltretutto, disponibile anche in vinile.

Giuseppe Mavilla


All About Jazz Italy Dec. 2011

Upcoming Hurricane, l'uragano che sta arrivando, è quello che prende forma dalle dita, dalle mani e dai piedi di Pascal Niggenkemper, Simon Nabatov, Gerald Clever. "Pusteblume" è l'attesa. L'archetto manovrato da Niggenkemper sfrega le corde del contrabbasso, stridori e dissonanze vagano per l'aria alimentando una tensione sottile ma palpabile. Nubi minacciose all'orizzonte, la calma apparente, i silenzi che si intrufolano tra le corde, sparuti trilli acuti e acuminati provenienti dal pianoforte di Nabatov preannunciano un cambiamento imminente e devastante.
Che puntualmente arriva con la title-track, la natura sprigiona tutta la sua potenza, gli elementi si scatenano in un sabba irrefrenabile, le dita di Nabatov scorrono frenetiche sulla tastiera come spinte da una forza invisibile, le pelli e i metalli percossi da Gerald Cleaver irradiano un pulviscolo ritmico in moto perpetuo, lo spazio e l'atmosfera sono attraversati da convulsioni e fremiti asimmetrici che, in coda, si trasformano in inaspettata scansione binaria.
Poi la quiete dopo la tempesta. In "Arbol de piedra" (il riferimento è a formazioni rocciose presenti in Bolivia che modellate dal vento assumono le sembianze di alberi) il tempo sembra fermarsi, poche note distillate dal pianoforte, qualche leggero pizzicato del contrabbasso, le spazzole che strisciano leggere lasciando un senso di vago e di indefinito. Con "Aeolus" i venti tornano a soffiare, non così impetuosi come in precedenza, ma capricciosi, irriverenti, quasi si divertissero a creare scompiglio tra gli strumenti e i loro sorpresi interpreti.
Upcoming Hurricane, registrato al Loft di Colonia in un pomeriggio di primavera del 2010, è disco dalle tinte forti e senza compromessi. Tre musicisti in stato di grazia (sorprendente l'abilità strumentale e compositiva del giovane contrabbassista tedesco, già note quelle dei suoi compagni di viaggio) danno vita ad una registrazione dove si combinano mirabilmente pieni e vuoti, irruenza e dolcezza, libertà e coerenza.

Vincenzo Roggero


Jazz a credit

Intéressante session d’improvisation entre deux grands improvisateurs et un jeune contrebassiste sur cette petite étiquette lituanienne publiant ses albums en série limitée (dans ce cas, seulement 300 exemplaires). 2 longues pièces de 11 minutes et 5 pièces plus petites. Les musiciens alternent entre le silence, la délicatesse et la fureur, le plein de notes car c’est parfois très rapide, dense et free. Lorsque les trois musiciens s’éclatent (comme sur Hupcoming Hurricane, la pièce phare du disque par son ascension et sa fragilité), le piano est omniprésent, Nabatov appuyant lourdement sur les touches, cascadant comme lui seul sait le faire. Lors de ces passages, il devient plus difficile de cerner la contrebasse, elle devient presque un instrument à percussion tellement Niggenkemper pince les cordes pour y sortir du son. Par moment, l’archet sera utilisé lors des pièces plus silencieuses. À la batterie Cleaver est un maître des nuances, des pinceaux, de la force et de la polyrythmie. Trois musiciens à l’écoute l’un de l’autre dans un free bien mené, pas trop aride, juste ce qu’il faut. Belle exploration sonore entre le déchirement, la contemplation, la vitesse, la tempête, la terre ferme, l’envol, le calme…

Maxime Bouchard