Reviews that mention Simon Nabatov

June 15, 20127

Frank Gratkowski/Simon Nabatov

Mirthful Myths
Leo Records CD LR 785

Frank Gratkowski/Sebi Tramontana

Live at Španski Borci

Leo Records CD LR 779

By Ken Waxman

During a nearly three decade career, German saxophonist/clarinetist Frank Gratkowski has performed in configurations ranging from raucous large ensembles to hushed solo discs. Some of his most personal and profound sessions though have been in duos, with these CDs providing recent evidence. In improvised music, familiarity often breeds eminence and both his playing partners are long time associates. Like an actor who has a quiet stage career as well as heralded film appearances, Gratkowski’s affiliation with Russian-American pianist Simon Nabatov is well-known dating back to his ‘90s membership in several of the Köln-based pianist’s bands. Although the association with Munich-based Italian trombonist Sebi Tramontana is almost as long lasting, Live at Španski Borci is one of the few times they’re recorded. MORE

February 8, 2020

14th Annual Francis Davis

7th Annual NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll 2019
Ken Waxman’s ballot

•Your name and primary affiliation(s)

Ken Waxman, Jazzword.com, The Whole Note, MusicWorks

•Your choices for this year’s 10 best New Releases (albums released between last Thanksgiving and this, give or take) listed in descending order one-through-ten
.

1. Uri Caine The Passion of Octavius Catto (816 Music)

2. Mark Dresser Seven Ain’t Nothing But a Cyber Coup & You (Clean Feed)

3. Robert Dick/Joëlle Léandre/Miya Masaoka Solar Wind (NotTwo) MW 986-2
MORE

September 12, 2019

Simon Nabatov

Readings Gileya Revisited
Leo CD LR 856

Big Tent

I Am Waiting

NotTwo MW 989-2

Pneuma

Who Has Seen the Wind?

Songlines SGL 1629-2

Horace Tapscott/Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra/Great Voice of UGMAA

Why Don’t You Listen?

Dark Tree DT (RS) 11

Ben Goldberg

Good Day for Cloud Fishing

Pyroclastic PRO 5

Something in the Air: Adapting Poetry to Jazz and Vice Versa

By Ken Waxman

Although the sentiment conjured up by the phrase Poetry and Jazz is of scruffy beatniks intoning verse to the accompaniment of a stoned bongo player, the intersection of poetry and improvised music has a longer history. As far back as the 1920s poets like Langston Hughes integrated jazz energy into their work and subsequent interaction involved whole groups of literary and musical types, with notable instances in San Francisco, Liverpool and Vancouver up until the present day. Some of the discs here extend the idea of sounds complementing words, while others work on the more difficult task of integrating both elements. MORE

December 17, 2018

Simon Nabatov String Trio

Situations
Leo Records CD LR 826

Akita Sakata/Simon Nabatov/Takashi Seo/Darren Moore

Not Seeing is a Flower

Leo Records CD LR 843

From his base in Köln, Russian-American pianist Simon Nabatov has built up an enviable discography partnering with many musicians on both sides of the notated/improvised divide at that German city’s The Loft and elsewhere. Two of his most recent CDs couldn’t be more dissimilar. Close to so-called contemporary music, the six Situations are the pianist’s compositions interpreted by a trio of himself, British cellist Ben Davis, who has worked with Ingrid Laubrock's International octet; and South African violist Gareth Lubbe, who was in the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig. As antithetical as sauerkraut is to sushi, Not Seeing is a Flower was created on a South-Asian tour two years later. Recorded in Chiba, Japan, the half-dozen tracks are fully in the Free Jazz/Free Music axis, with the pianist working with the group in which he toured: Australian drummer Darren Moore, Tokyo-bases bassist Takashi Seo and venerable Japanese Free Jazz pioneer Akira Sakata, who plays alto saxophone, clarinet, percussion and vocalizes. MORE

December 17, 2018

Akita Sakata/Simon Nabatov/Takashi Seo/Darren Moore

Not Seeing is a Flower
Leo Records CD LR 843

Simon Nabatov String Trio

Situations

Leo Records CD LR 826

From his base in Köln, Russian-American pianist Simon Nabatov has built up an enviable discography partnering with many musicians on both sides of the notated/improvised divide at that German city’s The Loft and elsewhere. Two of his most recent CDs couldn’t be more dissimilar. Close to so-called contemporary music, the six Situations are the pianist’s compositions interpreted by a trio of himself, British cellist Ben Davis, who has worked with Ingrid Laubrock's International octet; and South African violist Gareth Lubbe, who was in the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig. As antithetical as sauerkraut is to sushi, Not Seeing is a Flower was created on a South-Asian tour two years later. Recorded in Chiba, Japan, the half-dozen tracks are fully in the Free Jazz/Free Music axis, with the pianist working with the group in which he toured: Australian drummer Darren Moore, Tokyo-bases bassist Takashi Seo and venerable Japanese Free Jazz pioneer Akira Sakata, who plays alto saxophone, clarinet, percussion and vocalizes. MORE

April 11, 2017

Simon Nabatov

Monk’n’More
Leo Records CD LR 780

The Freexielanders

Looking Back, Playing Forward

Rudi Records RRJ1032

Joe McPhee/André Jaume

Nuclear Family

Corbett vs Dempsey CvD CD031

Dave Burrell and Bob Stewart

The Crave

No Business Records NBLP 100

Something In The Air: Twisting Classic Jazz and Jazz Classics

By Ken Waxman

Classic Jazz, sometimes called Dixieland or Trad Jazz van be a path into the music. However since the 100th birthday of recorded jazz passed last month, those who stick to recreating jazz standards of earlier eras are in the position of Early Music devotes who refuse to consider anything not played on period instruments. Ironically enough some well-known Free players started out as Dixielanders, including saxophonist Steve Lacy and Toronto artist/pianist Michael Snow, but they soon switched to more challenging fare. Recently a new curiosity has emerged though. As a post-modern paradox some advanced improvisers are mixing old timey classics with free form sounds with unique results. MORE

January 17, 2017

Oğuz Büyükberber and Simon Nabatov

Wobbly Strata
Trytone Records TT559-067

Simon Nabatov Trio

Picking Order

Leo Records CD LR 765

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. MORE

January 17, 2017

Simon Nabatov Trio

Picking Order
Leo Records CD LR 765

Oğuz Büyükberber and Simon Nabatov

Wobbly Strata

Trytone Records TT559-067

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. MORE

August 6, 2016

Simon Nabatov/Mark Dresser/Dominik Mahnig

Equal Pose
Leo Records CD LR 745

Jones Jones

The Moscow Improvisations

NotTwo MW935-2

Butch Lacy/Jesper Løvdal/Kresten Osgood/Mark Dresser

Being-Playing

ILK Records 237 CD

By Ken Waxman

Putting a lie to the canard that “those who can’t – teach”, bassist Mark Dresser hasn’t let his job in the music faculty at University of California, San Diego stop him from playing and innovating. Like a top-drawer business person who is also devoted to charitable works, Dresser is as likely to be found improvising with his peers as instructing a new generation of musicians. These CDs find the bassist in Europe, displaying the precipitous soloing and substantial rhythmic reinforcement for which he’s been known since he was in Anthony Braxton fabled ‘80s quartet. MORE

November 21, 2015

Gratkowski/Kruglov/Nabatov/Yudanov

Leo Records 35th Anniversary Moscow
Leo Records CD LR 719

By Ken Waxman

Anniversaries of record companies usually only serve as a reminder of the longevity implicit in cannily peddling particular products. But the commemoration associated with this CD is more profound. Recorded at the initial Moscow concert of a quartet consisting of two Russians – Alexey Kruglov playing alto saxophone and basset horn and percussionist Oleg Yudanov – plus Germans, pianist Simon Nabatov and alto saxophonist/clarinetist Frank Gratkowski, the five tracks pinpoint the cooperative skills of players from both countries. Providing a forum for Russian free improvisers to demonstrate their advanced expertise, was one of the reasons London-based Leo Records was founded 35 years ago. That neither the eastern nor western players can be distinguished on the basis of talent or sound on this celebratory disc is a tribute to the label’s ideas. MORE

May 19, 2014

Matthias Schubert/Simon Nabatov

Descriptions
Leo Records CD LR 686

Lurk Lab

Lurk Lab

Gligg Records 018

Matthias Schubert

9 Compositions for The Multiple Joy [ce] Ensemble

Red Toucan # RT 9348

For the past couple of decades, Kassel-born tenor saxophonist Matthias Schubert has come into his own as a valued sideman in various configurations as well as an infrequent leader of his own dates. Touching on different aspects of the saxophonist’s art, which encompasses Free Improv, electro-acoustics, straight-ahead Jazz and New music, the CDS here demonstrate how and why the versatile Schubert is almost always busy. MORE

May 2, 2014

Luc Houtkamp/Simon Nabatov/Martin Blume

Encounters
Leo Records CD LR 716

Büyükberbe/Nabatov/Hemingway

12: Live at the Bimhuis

Trytone TT 559-058

A cross-border variation on Cecil Taylor’s trio with Sunny Murray and Jimmy Lyon or perhaps the Alexander von Schlippenbach trio with Evan Parker and Paul Lovens, pianist Simon Nabatov is the weighty centre of these band configurations. But unlike the other combos which were working groups for extended periods, exhilaration, amazement and invention are mixed here since each CD captures a first time meeting. MORE

May 2, 2014

Büyükberbe/Nabatov/Hemingway

12: Live at the Bimhuis
Trytone TT 559-058

Luc Houtkamp/Simon Nabatov/Martin Blume

Encounters

Leo Records CD LR 716

A cross-border variation on Cecil Taylor’s trio with Sunny Murray and Jimmy Lyon or perhaps the Alexander von Schlippenbach trio with Evan Parker and Paul Lovens, pianist Simon Nabatov is the weighty centre of these band configurations. But unlike the other combos which were working groups for extended periods, exhilaration, amazement and invention are mixed here since each CD captures a first time meeting. MORE

October 14, 2013

Simon Nabatov/Nils Wogram/Tom Rainey

Nawora
Leo LR 647

By Ken Waxman

Recorded at the Loft performance space in Cologne, Germany, Russian-American pianist Simon Nabatov’s adopted home town, Nawora – a combination of the first syllables of the players’ last names – is one of a trio of discs featuring the pianist’s favorite musicians in various configurations. Truthfully the CD’s sophisticated improvisations easily stand on their own due to the congenial dealings among the pianist, hot-shot German trombonist Nils Wogram and sensitive American drummer Tom Rainey, both of whom have been Nabatov associates for either side of two decades. MORE

June 13, 2013

Festival Report:

Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon
By Ken Waxman

Metaphorically and literally the 2013 edition of the Ulrichsberger Kaldeidophon moved further afield than usual for a festival that has taken place annually at the Jazzatelier in this Austrian alpine village of 3,000 inhabitants near Linz. Not only were improvisers from the UK, US, Eastern and Western Europe represented, but for the first time, a concert for clavichord by Japan’s Makiko Nishikaze took place in a restored 14th Century church in Glöckelberg/Zvonkonva, about 10 kilometres away in the Czech Republic. MORE

June 10, 2012

Simon Nabatov

Spinning Songs of Herbie Nichols
Leo Records CD LR 632

Kris Davis

Aeriol Piano

Clean Feed CF 233 CD

Agustí Fernández

El laberint dfe la memòria

Mbari Musica MBARI 04

Denman Maroney

Double Zero

Porter Records PRCD-4063

Something In The Air: Solo Piano Strategies

By Ken Waxman

Solo playing has always been the make-or-break yardstick for pianists of any genre. That’s solo playing not playing solo, an important distinction which differentiates between exhibiting showy breaks and having an overall musical plan for the mini-orchestra this is at his or her fingertips. The solo challenge is more pronounced for improvisers since even if they’re interpreting compositions, originality is the paramount concern. These challenges don’t prevent pianists from trying their hands at solo sessions. But it’s instructive to note that the memorable ones, such as the piano dates here by an American, a Canadian, a Catalan and a Russian, use different strategies to attain matchless quality. MORE

January 5, 2012

Pascal Niggenkemper

Upcoming Hurricane
No Business NBCD 34

By Ken Waxman

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 to the equilibrium maintained among the French-German bassist who now lives in New York, and his associates – sidemen isn’t the word – who singly and together have been on hundreds of records. MORE

June 15, 2011

Simon Nabatov

Roundup
Leo Records CD LR 586

Lucas Niggli Big Zoom

Polisation

Intakt CD 174

Probably the most interesting younger trombonist in Europe, who is affiliated neither with out-and-out Free Music or the Mainstream, is German-born Nils Wogram. Like most contemporary players he leads his own ensembles while lending his inventiveness to a variety of other groups. Paradoxically though, while his own CDs lean towards the populist, the challenge of sidemen duties often brings out a more adventurous side, as these CDs demonstrate. MORE

November 11, 2010

Gratkowski/Nabatov/Schmickler

Deployment
Leo Records CD LR 565

Frank Gratkowski-Hamid Drake

Frank Gratkowski & Hamid Drake

Valid Records VR-1014

Ever-widening his circle of playing partners and the musical textures involved, German saxophonist and clarinetist Frank Gratkowski has the past decade established himself as a notable genre-jumper. Overall, he’s as apt to lend his talents to the pseudo-classical Zeitkratzer ensemble as he is playing Free Improv with trumpeter Herb Robertson, to take one partner, or dabbling in live electronics with the likes of keyboardist Chris Brown. MORE

December 4, 2007

Simon Nabatov-Nils Wogram

Jazz Limbo
Leo Records CD LR 492

Climaxing with an extended raucous syncopated exchange that wouldn’t have been out of place on a date featuring Ralph Sutton and Jack Teagarden, Russian pianist Simon Nabatov and German trombonist Nils Wogram create a glorious five-movement recital here.

The trombonist, who lives in Lucerne and the Köln-based pianist are long-time collaborators in each other’s small groups and with the NDR big band. In Nabatov’s home town, they dialogue in a fashion that probes the technical limits of both instruments while subtly evoking the sense of fun mainstreamers like Sutton and Teagarden brought to their performances. MORE

January 1, 2007

Simon Nabatov-Tom Rainey

Steady Now
Leo CD LR 463

Reducing their 15-year association in larger groups to its essence, Russian-American pianist Simon Nabatov and American drummer Tom Rainey combine for this nine-track recital, which skirts keyboard glibness to exhilarate.

Prodigiously educated, Nabatov so dominates his instrument – which here is extended with preparations and primitive electronics – that it’s often difficult for him to hold back. Considering he’s held his own with heavy hitters like German trombonist Nils Wogram and Dutch drummer Han Bennink that’s no surprise. Resonating note clusters, slinky vamps and contrapuntal passing chords ooze from his fingers along with key clipping, basso explorations plus struck and strummed internal string patterns. On “Não Olhe Para Trás”, a quasi bossa nova for instance, he affixes stride variations and atonal contrasting dynamics onto the Latinesque theme. Elsewhere he references Romantic Era crescendos, Monkish note-bending and pumping ragtime lines – sometimes on the same track. MORE

January 30, 2006

Albert van Veenendaal & Esmée Olthuis

Stripes & Spikes & Strikes
TRYtone

Nils Wogram & Simon Nabatov
The Move
Between the lines

By Ken Waxman
January 30, 2006

Recorded duos between one horn player and one pianist have been celebrated since Earl Hines’ and Louis Armstrong’s “Weather Bird” in 1928. But the key to their influence is making sure that the orchestral qualities of the keyboard don’t overpower the contributions of horn players, who, after all, can only rely on a combination of breath, valves or keys. MORE

May 16, 2005

SIMON NABATOV TRIO

Autumn Music
Leo Records CD LR 397

No better definition of musical post-modernism exists than hearing the Simon Nabatov trio work out its strategy on “Hardly Obliged”.

While Nabatov, the Russian-American pianist and American percussionist Michael Vatcher caress the smooth melody that wouldn’t be out of place in a 1940s Hollywood extravaganza, anarchistic Dutch cellist Ernst Reijseger deconstructs it with harsh cello tones. On top of muted brushwork and piano cadences that lean towards the cocktail hour, Reijseger twists, burrows and squeaks his strings, produces particular staccato runs and whistles while he works. The overall effect is like watching a movie featuring a tuxedo-clad Eddy Duchin expressing a lush melody on the piano while the Marx Brothers destroy the very stage on which he’s playing. MORE

November 17, 2003

SIMON NABATOV/HAN BENNINK

Chat Room
Leo Records LR 378

Containing the bear has been used as an expression to describe putting a brake on Russia’s imperial advances from the time of the czars through the heyday of the expansionist Soviet Union. But what animal characterizes the Netherlands the way the bear symbolizes Russia?

What this metaphoric query has to do with the CD is clearer than it appears at first once you listen to it. From his earliest playing days, Dutch drummer Han Bennink has seemed to have imperial ambitions -- his bombastic percussion attack could take over any session more quickly and efficiently than Stalinists ever subdued a Eastern European satellite. His drumbeats can easily mask the sounds of associates, up to and including the members of a big band. CHAT ROOM, his duo with Russian-American pianist Simon Nabatov, in contrast, is a monument to balance. MORE