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"Picking Order" Leo Records 765 2016

 

Mr. Stu's Record Room March 2017

Rambunctious or rhapsodic as the occasion demands, the new Simon Nabatov Trio is a perfect vehicle for pianist Nabatov’s brashly fractured compositions on Picking Order. Enlisting younger musicians for your group is a time-honored tactic for keeping the music as fresh as possible while also imparting some of your knowledge to the junior members of the band. Bassist Stefan Schönegg and drummer Dominik Mahnig are, as Nick Duvidowski observes in a brief interview with the veteran Nabatov, “considerably younger …” The pianist thanks him sarcastically for reminding him of that, and goes on to note that he first heard Schönegg and Mahnig in a local club in Köln. He felt right away that they’d “speak the same language.” His musical intuition was spot on, as the pair brings a peppy spirit and extreme dynamics to bear on Nabatov’s idiosyncratic music. Nabatov has some fascinating remarks about the way he composes. For example, the lengthy opener, Fill in the blanks, has what he describes as a “hidden” inspiration of Hegelian dialectical materialism, a memory of youthful study in what was then the Soviet Union. In musical terms, it generates a “stark, almost brutal contrast between two ‘fighting’ types of material, lyrical and hard-hitting.” It wouldn’t surprise me to hear him cite such dualism as the basis for much of his music, where contrasts abound, in volume, velocity, and intensity. Aria starts out quietly, for instance, but soon grows spiky and insistent. It’s a given, another of his “philosophical” pieces, has its “enjoyable beginnings” getting “stepped on” as the music unfolds, telling a story as do many of Nabatov’s excursions. His tunes always end up in a different place from where they started, and given that Nabatov can seemingly instantly play anything he thinks of, there’s quite a burden on his bandmates to listen closely and maintain the flow. Happily for all concerned, Schönegg and Mahnig are more than up to the challenge, and with luck, we can look forward to much more exciting and engaging music from this trio. Recommended! 

Stuart Kremsky

 

Music Zoom August 2016 Italy

Negli ultimi anni il pianista di origine russa Simon Nabatov ha spesso lavorato ed inciso in duo ed in trio. La sua nuova incisione è stata realizzata come sempre al Loft di Colonia in Germania, club in cui spesso si esibisce dal vivo, oltre a registrare. Questa volta è insieme al contrabbassista tedesco Stefan Schönegg ed al giovane batterista svizzero Dominik Mahnig, due musicisti da lui ascoltati a Colonia e subito in sintonia con le sue idee. Con Mahnig ha giá inciso, sempre su Leo Records, insieme al contrabbassista americano Mark Dresser. Dall’improvvisazione totale degli ultimi lavori ora si passa ad una musica più strutturata, composta da Nabatov appositamente per questo trio. Il lungo Fill in the Blanks che apre il disco è costruito intorno all’idea di mettere insieme elementi contrapposti, momenti lirici ed altri più forti ritmicamente ispirati dalla capoeira brasiliana. Il tutto si espande per diversi segmenti ed una forma complessa, si raggiunge comunque l’effetto voluto, la sorpresa e l’interazione con la ritmica ad un livello di empatia assoluto. Aria è un brano dalle atmosfere più tranquille, in qualche modo collegato alla scuola di pensiero di Arnold Schönberg. Il titolo che dà il titolo al disco Picking Order parte in modo lento, poi arrivano momenti in cui la musica si sviluppa liberamente, momenti free che fanno ricordare le improvvisazioni di Cecil Taylor. Il tema finale, in assoluto contrasto con i momenti più concitati, riporta la musica verso lidi più tranquilli. Growing a Soul Patch comincia con un esteso assolo di contrabbasso suonato con l’archetto, poi la musica va verso un jazz moderno, dinamico, che guarda alla tradizione, così come It’s Given, un altro brano che mostra come Nabatov ben conosca le possibilità espressive del modern mainstream insieme ai suoi sidemen. Come sempre un grande disco del pianista di origine russa, che sfoggia la sua enorme cultura musicale piegandola alle esigenze espressive del trio, che vanno dal modern mainstream al free passando per la musica europea. Tutto suona omogeneo, nuovo, moderno, alla ricerca di nuove possibilità di espandere il linguaggio del trio per pianoforte e ritmica.

Vittorio Lo Conte

 

Percorsi Musicali September 2016

Un ennesimo, idealistico "tre" da sviscerare è quello del rinnovato trio di Simon Nabatov di Picking Order. Simon a New York, con il trio impostato a piano-basso-batteria fece molta fortuna (Rainey-Helias), distillando musica eccellente. Come spesso è successo nella musica del pianista russo, c'è sempre da cavare un intento letterario o filosofico: nelle note interne Nabatov rivela al suo intervistatore come il titolo del cd non sia casuale e l'intero lavoro segua il suo interesse per il materialismo dialettico che fu oggetto di una triade evolutiva, un legame che si genera nell'idealismo tedesco di inizio ottocento (Hegel, Engels e la variante economica di Marx), affronta il Leninismo russo ed arriva ad influenzare i recenti rappresentanti del partito comunista cinese. Il concetto di base è la contrapposizione nei meccanismi delle idee generatrici, che agisce come una potente arma di sviluppo delle civiltà e delle classi sociali. Nabatov si impegna nel donare lustro a queste incredibili forze congenite, lavorando su un impianto di improvvisazione totale: l'intera gamma delle azioni, passibili di esprimere un evento o un sentimento, passa sotto le mani del pianista russo e del trio, mostrando l'incredibile equilibrio tattile dei musicisti e soprattutto di Nabatov; qui c'è la convergenza ordinata di jazz, atonalità, libera espressione, modalità, inserti da virtuosità classica, combinazioni con ritmiche al limite rock e con clusters, estemporanee formazioni melodiche latine e accenni blues. Simon si proclama particolarmente attratto dall'attuale scena improvvisativa di Colonia (la sua residenza), che mai come in questo momento sta producendo uno sforzo educativo ed organizzativo per sviluppare i suoi talenti; Stefan Schonegg (contrabbasso) e Dominik Mahnig (batteria), i compartecipi dell'impresa Picking Order, sono i prescelti di questa vitalità conclamata e vi consiglio di metterli sotto osservazione per il futuro, perché suonano davvero bene. Picking Order è un lavoro splendido, basterebbero solo i 19 minuti di Fill in the blanks per mettersi già in pace l'anima; le delizie che colpiscono le orecchie incorniciano uno dei migliori lavori di Nabatov, che invecchiando sembra aumentare il proprio carico di creatività, una situazione imprevista che nemmeno gli esperti riescono ad inquadrare: mi rincresce sottolineare che la giovane critica jazz internazionale è sorda di fronte a quegli artisti (oggi quasi introvabili) come Nabatov, che sono capaci di coniugare statura artistica e progetti senza scadere nel mestiere. Simon dovrebbe vincere ogni anno i referendum dei migliori pianisti internazionali dell'improvvisazione, poiché è sincero, curioso e terribilmente in forma, ma questo non succede. Picking Order raccoglie concetti strettamente legati a gesti musicali ed esprime un pensiero cumulativo sulle musiche utili per quel mutamento rivoluzionario del mondo di Marx.

Ettore Garzia

 

Opduvel September 2016

En dan is het nog het recent verschenen album van het Simon Nabatov Trio, waarin de pianist samenwerkt met de Duitse bassist Stefan Schönegg en de Zwitserse drummer Dominik Mahnig. Beide jonge muzikanten wonen ook in Keulen en Mahnig was al te horen op Equal Poise. Waar Wobbly Strata een vrije improvisatieplaat is en Lubatov modern klassiek terrein verkent, ligt Picking Order daar tussenin: het is onmiskenbaar een jazzplaat, maar wel met geschreven stukken als basis. De plaat opent met het negentien minuten durende ‘Fill In The Blanks’, dat een vrij ingewikkelde opbouw kent en daardoor niet bij de eerste luisterbeurt pakt. Het blijkt echter een knap geconstrueerd werk te zijn bestaande uit meerdere delen, al behoudt het stuk een wat fragmentarisch karakter. ‘Aria’ klinkt wat vertrouwder en is een mooie mix van lyrische en tegendraadse stukken, waarin bas en drums het snelle pianospel volgen. Minder is de inzet van een kinder xylofoon in het titelstuk. De kinderlijke klank zit de muziek van piano, bas en drums in de weg. Gelukkkig zet het tweede, energiekere gedeelte de zaken enigszins recht. Het met een gestreken bassolo beginnende en in bluesy jazz uitmondende ‘Growing a Soul Patch’ is het meest uitgesproken en straight forward-stuk van de plaat. Veel vrijer gaat het er aan toe in het speelse ‘Turning Point’, waarin improvisatie de overhand heeft ten opzichte van compositie. ‘It’s a Given’ opent met een pianosolo waarin Nabatovs technische en melodische vernuft goed naar voren komen. Het stuk heeft een positieve uitstraling, ook – of misschien wel juist – in de speelsere gedeelten waarin met ritmiek en timbre wordt gegoocheld. Het korte ‘Chrystal Clear’ sluit het enerverende album af. Drie keer Simon Nabatov dus, op drie verschillende cd’s die elk een andere kant van zijn muzikale spectrum belichten. De pianist voelt zich als een vis in het water als vrij improvisator maar ook in gecomponeerde muziek. Hij is een fraaie stylist en een handige ontregelaar. Daarnaast zijn de muzikanten met wie hij samenwerkt steevast aan hem gewaagd en dat maakt de muziek kleurrijk en spannend.

Gert Derkx

 

Jazz Line-Up October 2016

Very impressed by Simon Nabatov's Picking Order, out now on Leo. It's not just another piano trio album. Event-filled writing and playing.

Kevin Le Gendre

 

Kind of Blue October 2016

Meisterpianist Simon Nabatov hat ein neues Trio geformt, und dies ist die erste Aufnahme mit Bassist Stefan Schönegg und Schlagzeuger Dominik Mahnig. Das Trio tastet sich vorsichtig in den ersten Titel “Fill in the Blanks“ hinein. Dann nimmt die Intensität zu bis hin zu einigen brachialen Klavierklängen, mit denen Nabatov ein Ausrufungszeichen setzt, bevor eine pointillistische Improvisation beginnt. Über fast 19 Minuten erzählt das Trio eine jederzeit spannende Geschichte. Die hat eine musikalische Struktur, eine Dramaturgie, und doch bleibt den drei Protagonisten viel Raum zur freien Improvisation. Nabatov hat seinem Trio sieben recht unterschiedliche Kompositionen auf den Leib geschrieben. “Aria“ lehnt schon vom Titel her an Nabatovs klassischen Musikhintergrund an, auch hier wieder mit ausgeprägten Dynamikwechseln, dumpfen Trommeltönen Mahnigs und rasenden Läufen Schöneggs. Nabatov ist erster unter Gleichen, aber seine jungen Mitstreiter stehen ihm nicht nach in ihrem Ideenreichtum. “Growing a soul patch“ – sich ein Seelenpflaster wachsen lassen – startet mit Schöneggs schräg schönem Streichen des Basses, dann mischt Mahnig Beckenklänge dazu, Nabatov schlägt dunkle Töne an, und plötzlich mündet das Ganze in ein swingendes Trio-Spiel in bester schwarzer Jazz Tradition mit deutlicher Blues-Fundierung. Nabatov möchte sich, seine Mitmusiker und seine Zuhörer überraschen. Und das gelingt ihm auf dieser CD, vorzüglich aufgenommen von Stefan Deistler im Kölner Loft, ein ums andere Mal exzellent. Ein Kandidat für die Bestenliste 2016 im Bereich der improvisierten Musik.

Hans-Bernd Kittlaus

 

His Voice November 2016

...Zdánlivě obvyklé obsazení Simon Nabatov Tria na albu Picking Order, nahraného v témže Loftu v květnu 2015, ve kterém vedle Nabatova účinkují basista Stefan Schönegg a bubeník Dominik Mahnig (oba s Loftem spojení takřka pupeční šňůrou), může zmást. Nabatov tentokrát opustil svoji vášeň pro samovolné improvizování a sevřel sedm svých precízně předepsaných skladeb do krunýře promyšlenosti. Pojem krunýř okamžitě odvolávám. Jde totiž pouze o vnitřní uspořádání, ale navenek působí hudba Picking Order dojmem naprosté nenucenosti (což patří k velkému mistrovství: zatajit postupy, ukázat lehkost bez prozrazování, jak k ní autor dospěl).  Možná, že trio představilo v kostce své prokumštovávání hned v úvodní Fill in the blanks. Každopádně se tu jemně vynořuje klavír a plejáduje za doharašování bicích i akcentování kontrabasu, vše je přirozené, velejemně trousivé, s nadechnutou rozmarností, která se ovšem zmnožuje a zhmožďuje, zrychluje a znervňuje, dokud nevzlétne až do třeskutosti a rabijátského rozhlučení se zhupy rozmarnosti a humpoláckosti. Zvítězí rozrytmizovaná melodie kaskádovaného klavíru s podšprajcováním bicích, ale střídání bytelnostní i prokřehulkované hledavosti vede až do cvalu, (roz)vratnosti, prostocvičného zarámusení a znovu(vz)křísení. Vše se postupně (jde téměř o devatenáct minut!) uvelebuje, titěrňuje, vrzuká, podloudničí, vykotlává, hlubinuje, vytěkává, ale zdánlivá námatkovost je pouze zdáním, protože milenkování klavíru, obestřené profáčováním basy a bicích, vždy poznovu melodické polobezvědomí pozvedne živou vodou a zapříčiní povstání ze zmrtvělosti. Kolik předělů, proměn, obměn, prodíravosti i zdánlivé nesmělosti tu zažíváme, kolik tajuplnosti i rozvahy, prekérňující průtažnosti, odhodlávání, (s)mrštnosti i zazuřovaného skotáctví, ale také nevyřčené výzvy Schönegga a Mahniga „spočinutí dej nám, ó klavírmane!“ Další skladby tento obraz rozhojňují od pronášené, leč nepřenášené bohabojnosti k překotňující náhlivosti, rozbalivé i rozvláčněné, rozvážné i tetelivé, nikdy však rozcapené proburlesknosti až k vrtošné koumavosti, důležité však je, že všechno je odvažováno na vážkách a vahách všech možných tonáží, už od té lékarnické. Klavír pochopitelně vše vede, tu do skladby vhupkuje, osměluje se, proklinkává a zabouřní, tu všechno přemělní do výrazné sdělnosti, rozjásá a rozkuráží, tu vy(po)čítavě zabriskní, je rozumbradský, vydestilovaně propleskávavý, odpovědný za nová a nová posmršťování i zaklidňování, biřicování i bezzábraňování.  Oba Nabatovovi kolegové se však nedají zahanbit, hudební děje zahrávavě proštrikovávají, bicí  jsou potřeskné i promlativé, hrajnababuové i výpalnické, jsou někdy zakoptnické a dobíječské, jindy probičovávané do berkdebernění nebo násilnicky rozviřované.  Schönegg se dokáže vyhřezávaně probasovávat do rozpáraného so(u)lování, pozamykávat a zklidňovat vzrušení do zavinovaného odlehnostnění a poběživého prohlédání a činí tak s přesvědčivostí, které se oba jeho souputníci volky nevolky musí (alespoň občas a dočasně) přizpůsobit. Vše vrcholí v definitivní dopeklivosti a – tečka.

Z.K. Slaby

 

All About Jazz November 2016

Simon Nabatov is a renowned improvising jazz pianist who possesses a hefty discography on Leo Records as a leader and session artist. At times his mode of execution summons a perspective of several tentacles flailing across the keyboard via a cavalcade of intriguing perspectives and much more. But with his Cologne-based trio, Nabatov renders a shift in strategy by leaning more towards conventional song-form initiatives. And from a holistic view, the band's output is often astonishing. The trio unfolds a manifold perspective, yet this is not boilerplate piano trio fare. Here, the musicians generate gobs of contrasts while interrogating each other's spur-of-the-moment ideas along with crashing cadenzas and succinct melodies. And while the improvisational element remains intact, Nabatov also hones in on trance-like movements while dishing out introspective moments and vividly merging classical, jazz and avant-garde persuasions into the mix. The pianist bridges the gap by transforming old school jazz values into his futuristic vision. With moments of bravado and the artists briskly performed unison choruses, they turn up the heat and throttle matters down to a whisper during various passages. " Picking Order" is a cascading, rhythmic wonderland. However, "Growing a Soul Patch" is driven by an endearing hook, redesigned by the leader's up-tempo inner-workings along with harmonious block chords and colorific shadings. Moving forward, they bump it up into a staggered rock groove, amped by brief sojourns into the R&B world. Nabatov juxtaposes the structured works on the unbounded, experimental piece, "Turning Point." The trio pulls out the proverbial stops on "It's a Given," marked by a gorgeous primary theme, abetted by the pianist's Tatum-like runs and a few curveballs tossed in for good measure. In addition, the musicians engage in buoyant conversations, while smashing the main plot into smithereens for the opus. In sum, Picking Order is a progressive jazz music marvel and a top-pick for 2016, or any year for that matter.

Glenn Astarita

 

Jazz Views November 2016

Here is a new trio recording together for the first time. Stefan Schönegg is a newcomer, the other two having played and recorded together before. Although the music is composed, written, there always seems time, space and freedom for improvisation to develop, even out of more structured elements. Developments take place in the opposite direction too, freely improvised works being followed by something almost entirely arranged. The opening track, Fill in the Blanks, is itself a demonstration of this, switching as it does between tight agendas and free flowing improv. The piece is quite complex and at first somewhat confusing – I thought I was listening to a number of discreet, short tracks, but on revisiting it came together more readily. Picking Order, Track 3, is reminiscent of the exhilarating Cecil Taylor style of piano playing then there is a significant switch as the next track, Growing a Soul Patch, starts with a wonderfully serene bowed bass solo. Definitely in a jazz-blues style, it brings the listener full circle to the notion that we probably started with: that we had been going to hear a jazz album and in spite of the dinks and jigs in and out of contemporary classical music and mainstream lyricism, this truly is a fine jazz album, albeit one which shows its author’s cultural background without actually showing off.

Ken Cheetham

 

Jazzflits December 2016

De trio-cd ‘Picking Order’ biedt juist ook weer ruimte aan het compositietalent van de Rus. In de liner notes wordt uitgelegd dat hij daarin gebruikmaakt van wat hij in de Sovjettijd op school heeft geleerd: de dialectiek van Hegel. En dat wil zeggen dat these en antithese samen tot synthese leiden. Vooral het openingsstuk, ‘Fill in the blanks’, is zo opgebouwd. Heldere lyriek en beukende passages wisselen elkaar af om zo te komen tot een geheel dat meer waarde heeft dan de afzonderlijke in- grediënten. Het nieuwe trio van Nabatov, met jonkies Stefan Schönegg (bas) en Dominik Mahnig (drums), blijkt van vele markten thuis en houdt je als luisteraar voortdurend bij de les. Abstractie en lyriek vechten daarbij om de aandacht, en soms zijn er smeuïge grooves, die (half ironiserend, half respectvol) het souljazz-werk van Ramsey Lewis in gedachten roepen. ‘Growning a soul patch’ en ‘Turning point’ zijn er voorbeelden van. Op zulke momenten voel je een verwantschap in zowel pianistiek als composities met het werk van Leo Cuypers.

Herman te Loo

 

Cadence January/February 2017

SIMON NABATOV is an American pianist who some years ago moved to Germany. Classically trained he has been part of the jazz scene since the early 1980s.
Beginning in the early ‘90s, all of his recordings have been on European labels which may account for his being relatively un-heralded in North America. This is unfortunate, as he is a talent with broad abilities and imagination from mainstream to no-stream. Most of his dates as leader are released on Leo Records and now they’ve issued PICKING ORDER [leo cd lr 765]. This is a trio [Stefan Schönegg-b, Dominik Mahnig-drm] recording from 5/9/15. Working within a structure Nabatov freely follows a musical muse that takes him from one room/exploration to another. The 7 tracks [63:15] are all Nabatov’s and he speaks about them and the trio and his current state in a May ’16 interview with Nick Duvidowski which serves as album notes.

Robert Rusch

 
 

JazzWord January 2017

Like a scholar still seeking more and diverse knowledge as he gets older, pianist Simon Nabatov, 57, keeps evolving musically without neglecting his earlier concepts. The Russian-born, long-time resident of Köln, Germany, who started his career in New York in 1979, doesn’t shy away from any challenges or configurations, whether playing solo piano or part of ensembles. Equally descriptive, two of his most recent sessions are unique as well. Wobbly Strata is a first-time duo with Turkish-born, Amsterdam-based clarinetist Oğuz Büyükberber, while Picking Orders is a trio date with German bassist Stefan Schönegg and Swiss drummer Dominik Mahnig. Although Nabatov has frequently recorded in the latter format, this is his initial outing with Schönegg and Mahnig, both of whom are about three decades younger than him. This doesn’t mean that the seven tracks on the trio disc suggest the idea of a pack leader giving instruction to young pups. Instead the drummer’s hard smacks and the bassist’s centred thumps add as much to the interaction as Nabatov’s playing, which within instances can ricochet from dynamic Cecil Taylor-like emphasis to neo-classical waterfall-like note spurting. This is especially obvious on “Fill in the Blanks”, the introductory and longest track in this session recorded at Köln’s the Loft, and a location as associated with Nabatov as the Five Spot was with Thelonious Monk. Comparisons to Monk are apt. Never as quirky in his playing as the American icon, the classically trained pianist similarly retains links to the tradition and can be as lyrical and balladic in spots when he wishes. Elsewhere he’s up for any single note challenge, rhythmically or chordally, and on this track emphasises both roles: with a delicate lyrical bent to the tune’s first coda, toughening it with emphasized thumps second time around. Lighter and darker the Jekyll and Hyde sides of Nabatov’s piano persona are displayed throughout the rest of the disc. A track such as “It’s a Given” gives a demonstration of his keyboard command for instance. Starting slowly like a sprinter preparing for a race, his romantic key sprinkles soon give way to Olympic-Game-level key clashes and cascades, where Earl Hines-like utilizing of notes and patterns crop up alongside unlimited atonal expanses. However like Jaki Byard or Monk, he never loses the swing element. Mahnig’s rumble and pop coupled with Schönegg’s walking bass line on “Turning Point” as well as the bassist’s string buzzing introduction to the sardonically titled “Growing a Soul Patch” set up animated swing parameters that almost move the trio via the Wayback Machine to 1950s-1960s-style pop Jazz. Still Nabatov’s sophisticated investigation of theme variations on the first tune and plunge into impressionism on the second ground the program in 21st Century post-modern improvisation.

Ken Waxman

 
 

Jazzenzo February 2017

Ook in het meer traditionele format van het pianotrio is Nabatov uitstekend thuis. Met de Duitse contrabassist Stefan Schönegg en de Zwitserse drummer Dominik Mahnig vormt hij een stevig clubje dat net zo goed thuis is in de jazztraditie als in de hedendaagse experimenten. Er wordt geïmproviseerd op composities van Nabatov, die behoorlijk variëren in tijdsduur. De cd start met het bijna negentien minuten durende ‘Fill in the Blanks, een stuk met een architectuur waarin de musici met improvisaties de lege delen invullen. In ‘Aria’ wordt lyriek telkens onderbroken door tegendraadse melodieën. In het titelstuk ‘Picking Order’ gebruikt Mahning een kinder-xylofoon als percussie-instrument. ‘Growing on a Soul Patch’ is een stevig neergezet nummer met een flinke groove, waarin Nabatov laat horen dat hij ouderwets kan swingen. Fors improviseert hij in ‘Turning Point’, waarin de vleugel onder zijn gewicht lijkt te bezwijken. ‘It’s a given’ geeft de ruimte aan Nabatov’s gevoel voor melodie, met telkens onverwachte ritmische goochelpartijtjes. 

Cyriel Pluimakers