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Brandon Seabrook - Simon Nabatov



"Voluptuaries " Leo Records LR CD 894 / 2021


 Music Free Jazz Blog February 2021

Chuck Berry once famously opined, “I have no kick against modern jazz, unless they try to play it too darn fast, and change the beauty of the melody, until they sound just like a symphony.” I think differently. I can love a languid Lester ballad or a glacial Ayler dirge, but I’m also delighted listening to music that’s as fast as possible in as many ways as possible. Listening to Art Tatum, it’s hard not to imagine a young Charlie Parker’s listening, working as a dishwasher at Jimmy’s Chicken Shack to hear Art Tatum, and hearing the whole panoply: Tatum, counterrhythms of clanking dishes, kitchen door mutes, cash register, customers, waiters, bartenders, all the fractional beats and collisions as they might have filtered into BirdMind, sorting out the randomness of it all. Last year pianist Simon Nabatov released Last Minute Theory, an excellent quintet session of his compositions with Tony Malaby, Michael Formanek, Gerald Cleaver and Brandon Seabrook. It was fine music, with its own edges, but listening to it, I wanted to hear more of Seabrook’s edgy guitar lines with Nabatov, preferably in a wholly improvised setting. Voluptuaries is that CD: Seabrook and Nabatov are both nano-second improvisers, changing direction or inserting interstitial counter lines and commentary in the quickest lines. Seabrook’s guitar might suggest the techniques of surf guitarist supreme Dick Dale and his Middle Eastern picking roots or Eugene Chadbourne on banjo or guitar; Nabatov grew up in demanding Russian academies and furthered his technique playing post-bop jazz. The music here isn’t all high-speed, but even dreamscapes and ballads are informed by the sudden aside, the unlikely insertion or shift in direction. It’s dynamic, sometimes hyper-active music that can suggests a particle accelerator, with the phrase “sudden and unexpected” applicable at every turn. The opening “Daggers” has them intersecting at oblique angles, throwing off overlapping abstract runs and sudden shifts in dynamics with occasional shocks in timbre that can suggest prepared guitar or piano or involuntary body noises. “Who Never Dies” has tightly picked guitar eruptions tunneling up through the piano runs, with quick shifts to sustain-pedal gossamer piano and bursts of guitar-pedal noise, before they all fade into quarter-tone mystery Slowing down the tempo is usually accompanied by disorientations of tempo or pitch. “Dust Storms” turns from pure piano reverie into reverberating tremolo guitar, still stretching dreamward, but there will be unpredictable sonic intrusions and sudden, just lightly jarring adventures in pitch. On “Squalid Simplicities” there are reactive materials on the piano strings, multiplying and altering Nabatov’s notes, but Seabrook is still feeding into it, fast-picked runs packed in amongst the piano sounds. While Seabrook’s guitar frequently sounds barely amplified, he also can summon up electronic tones that sound like Bronx cheers. There are playgrounds, carnivals and several haunted houses here‒usually comic‒and frequently developed narrative evolutions: “Spirit of the Staircase,” for example involves numerous chases and several disguises, usually assumed by Seabrook: his sudden sonic eruptions, almost musique concrete, function like sound effects in an ancient radio drama. There’s genuine joy and playfulness here, often at warp speed, part of the appeal of these strange soundscapes and kinetic episodes.

Stuart Broomer

 The New York City Jazz Record August 2021

The layers propelling Stove Top are enacted as real-time duet on Voluptuaries by Seabrook (here only on electric guitar) and pianist Simon Nabatov. Leading with the crashing, tearing “Daggers”, the pair improvise their way through a dozen titles, calling on the many facets of free music, at points all in the same phrase. But even on the motion-filled opener, Seabrook and Nabatov’s coda stops time, allowing the reverb of both instruments to linger ominously as Seabrook manipulates his volume knob and Nabatov his sustain pedal. Similarly, on “Who Never Dies”, after burning through rapid-fire runs, the pair shifts dynamics considerably and the piano’s lower strings are plucked, the effect somewhat reminiscent of Harry Partch’s percussive metallic tubing. “Dust Storms”, however, is the piece that lures the ear, a moving evocative piano melody, at once modern and romantic, colored by open chording, tremolo bar and volume manipulations, as well as use of detuning the instrument’s low E string to fathoms below. “Grospeak” contains the same evocative power, more so, though here the masterful, dark piano playing recalls a distant howling on a starless night. The duet itself—its levels and sympathetic interplay—seems to have reached its zenith on this piece, with the piano’s maximalism both thwarted and advanced by the electric bite of guitar.

John Pietaro

 Jazz Weekly April 2021

Guitarist Brandon Seabrook teams with Simon Nabatov on piano for a dozen intuitive duets. The sounds created by these two make one wonder if there were other instruments, as the rich “Voluptuaries” sounds like an organ is present, while some sort of a whistle is heard on the askance “Spirit of the Staircase”. Seabrook’s strings are either tuned quite creatively or loosely tied as on the folksy “Who Never Dies” and “La Femme Makita”. Some spacey effects are heard on “Fresnel Lenses” and Nabatov delivers eerie and dark tones on “Foam” and “Grosbeak”. Journeys to the land of long shadows.

George Harris

 Culture Jazz May 2021

Autre rencontre américaine, cinq ans plus tard, entre Nabatov et Brandon Seabrook, guitariste “de jazz” par l’articulation, le phrasé et la maîtrise des sonorités. Un jeu peut-être un peu moins complexe et créatif que ceux de Joe Morris ou de Mary Halvorson par exemple, mais sensible et pertinent. Un réél plaisir de jouer sourd de ces douze courts échanges (2 à 5’) aux ambiances variées. Un beau panorama musical.

Jean Buzelin

 HisVoice June 2021

Opus Voluptuaries je na ploše osmačtyřiceti minut rozdělen do dvanácti instantních kompozic a nejdelší úvodní vykopávací propletencový kus Daggers jen lehce přesahuje pět minut. Brandon Seabrook zde zcela dokazuje pověst jednoho z nejinvenčnějších kytaristů své generace. Rychlé běhy dokáže proměnit náhle v tklivé tóny či kosmické plochy. Někdy svou kytaru doslova drhne, jindy rozvolňuje a rozbrušuje, seká, rozostřuje, rozjetě rozdrnčí. Někdy je to divočina jindy lyrika, někdy ulítlý moderní jazz, objeví se stopy progrocku i zcela abstraktní seance. Zkrátka se zde velice proměnlivě pracuje se strukturami, náladami, zvraty, protichůdností i souhrou. Nabatov do všeho skvěle zapadá a je chvíli vůdčím hráčem, jindy dozvukovačem, preludistou i minimalistickým noisařem. Mezi perly patří rozverně vrzavá Spirit of the Staircase plná drobných hudebních fines. Vše skvěle vrcholí v rozvibrované a rozjeté předposlední skladbě La Femme Makita a potápí se do vesmírné nirvány v souznivé závěrečné titulní skladbě.

Petr Slaby

 Music Zoom Italy January 2021

Ormai il pianista di origine russa Simon Nabatov risiede da anni a Colonia in Germania e da qui collabora con musicisti di tutto il mondo. Che sia il jazz piú tradizionale, come le dediche a Monk e Herbie Nichols, o l’avanguardia, l’eclettico musicista sa sempre creare materiale interessante per il pubblico che lo segue. Per questa nuova opera, registrata al Loft di Colonia è insieme ad un altro protagonista dell’avanguardia, il chitarrista americano Brandon Seabrook. È un dialogo intenso e compatto di poco più di quanrattotto minuti, in cui ci sono momenti molto lirici, come Dust Storms, in mezzo ad altri più astratti – Fresnel Lenses – ed altri ovviamente più aggressivi, in cui la chitarra elettrica trova un pianoforte in grando di stimolare ed esaltare le idee di Brandon, spesso cariche di adrenalina. Sono per lo più brani dalla breve durata, ognuno con una sua particolare atmosfera, improvvisati all’istante, senza alcun controllo da parte degli esecutori. È un album eclettico, ricco della grande esperienza dei due, che da un brano all’altro intrattiene l’ascoltatore sempre con qualcosa di nuovo. Una collaborazione riuscita da parte di due maestri del genere.

Vittorio Lo Conte

 NRW Jazz February 2021

Der in Köln ansässige Ausnahmepianist Simon Nabatov ist ein ausgesprochen umtriebiger Musiker mit hoher Veröffentlichungsrate. Bei aller Quantität der Aufnahmen: Immer ist Nabatov für eine positive Überraschung gut, was die Besetzung, aber auch, was die Qualität seiner freien Musik angeht. Dies trifft auch auf sein neustes Album mit dem Titel Voluptuaries zu. Es handelt sich um eine Aufnahme mit dem amerikanischen Gitarristen Brandon Seabrook aus dem Kölner Loft. Die zwölf Titel der CD nehmen einen mit auf eine ausgefallene Klangreise. Bereits der Opener Daggers überrascht mit einer nervös-dynamischen Zwiesprache mit Nabatov-typischen Läufen und Sprüngen, die der Gitarrist einfallsreich begleitet und ergänzt. Das eruptive Spiel an beiden Instrumenten ergibt ein bizarres Klanggebilde, das im letzten Teil mythische Züge annimmt. In Who Never Dies erarbeiten Nabatov und Seabrook mit virtuosen Läufen ein vibrierendes Gewebe, das metallen klingende Squalid Simplicities erinnert an ein verstörend frenetisches kunstvolles Topfschlagen. Den eher rhythmisch energischen Stücken des Albums stehen solche gegenüber, die ausgesprochen ruhig, ganz auf rätselhafte Klangerzeugung ausgerichtet sind wie Fresnel Lenses oder das besinnlich-lyrische Dust Storms oder das verrätselte Diamonds And Dust. Fast bedrohlich verbleibt Foam in den Tiefen des Bassspiels, während Simon Nabatov in Grosbeak in gewohnt energischer Weise die Pianotasten mit atonalen Clustern und Läufen traktiert, was von der Gitarre kongenial sekundiert wird. Gleiches gilt für den experimentellen Charakter von Spirit Of The Staircase und den rasant rhythmisierten Dialog des Tracks Vex Me. La Femme Makita erinnert an fernöstliche meditative Klangwelten, die in einen interstellaren Raum verlegt werden. Das Album endet mit dem titelgebenden Stück mit seinem verhalten schwebenden Gestus. Mit dem teils energievollen, teils meditativ-versponnenen Charakter der Albumtitel erzielen die beiden Musiker eine ausgesprochen mythische, labyrinthische Klangwelt, ja: ein wahres Hörabenteuer. Das Titelbild mit einem Ausschnitt aus Nymphen und Satyr von William Adolphe Bouguereau und die rätselhaften Titel der Tracks eröffnen zusätzliche Assoziationsbrücken zu den abstrakten Soundgebilden. Bestimmt keine eingängige, leicht rezipierbare Kost. Wer sich auf sie konzentriert einlässt, erfährt freie Musik at its best.

Heinrich Brinkmöller-Becker

 Improvizorijum February 2021

Istinskom radošću saradnje i posebnom atmosferom razvijene naracije odiše prvi zajednički susret američkog gitariste Brendona Sibruka i ruskog pijaniste Simona Nabatova, ostvaren u kelnskom Loftu početkom novembra 2019. godine, u njihovoj koherentnoj međuigri suprotnosti, od kontemplativne lirike pa do eruptivnosti. Prošlog meseca je Leo Records objavio ove radove na kompakt-disku Voluptuaries. Sibruk i Nabatov grade neobične, očaravajuće, ali kompleksne zvučne kulise nalik nekom mitskom lavirintu, gde se „iznenadno i neočekivano” pojavljuju na svakom koraku, poput dodatnih asocijacija na apstraktne zvučne strukture.

Milenko Mićanović