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.

After earlier blustery brass textures and high-frequency chord clusters, the two see-saw back-and-forth in the second half of the date with Wogram’s Tubby the tuba subterranean pitches giving way burnished tongue flutters and slurred triplets. Nabatov then bangs out knife-sharp harmonic cadences that emphasize first one key cluster than another.

Soon his improvisation references boogie-woogie cadences, kinetically emphasizing different areas of the keyboard with raggedy syncopation. Turning from this to slapping, kneading and fanning the keys as the strings are stopped and plucked, Nabatov then retreats for Wogram’s showcase. Tonguing, sliding, slurring, verbalizing and blowing, the trombonist produces timbres ranging from extended horks to fuzzy sniffs and a final emphasized blat.

There’s no way anyone could push Nabatov and Wogram into jazz limbo. Plus there are times here, where so-called Jazz Limbo sounds awfully close to Classic Jazz.

— Ken Waxman

— For CODA Issue 336