By ALAN BRYSON, Published: January 5, 2011
With his fifth release in five years, Munich-born Matthias Bublath demonstrates, once again, that he's a creative powerhouse. The composer/pianist/organist has the knack of achieving a rare and enviable outcome made famous by artists like Dave Brubeck: specifically, his music satisfies a sophisticated palate while appealing to a general audience.
Diversity is an apt title, a musical kaleidoscope that brings together musicians from four continents. Although he is a fine musician in his own right, first and foremost Bublath's approach serves the music and places a premium on a strong group dynamic. His original compositions draw organically from his wide ranging influences, with hints of reggae, funk, tango, Schubert, Dr. John, and the various icons of piano jazz. The opening "Smooth As Silk" is, likewise, a fitting description of unmistakable compositional strengths that might be described as Henry Mancini meets Charlie Parker. The Argentinean rhythm section, with drummer Franceo Pinna and bassist Fernando Huergo, is an ideal choice for an outing that also includes compositions from Cuban composers/pianists Ignacio Cervantes and José Maria Vitier, and Brazil's Cesar Camargo Mariano. To achieve his vision, Bublath relies heavily on the precision, vibrancy, and fluidity of flutist Anne Drummond and the subdued charm, harmonic instincts and considerable chops of Japanese trumpeter Takuya Kuroda. Drummond and Bublath, in particular, enjoy a remarkable degree of musical communication, like twins who finish each other's sentences.
Kuroda's funky and soulful solo on "Faat King" demonstrates that, beneath his tasteful restraint, lurks a powerful young lion. On "Prelude II," J.S. Bach's composition begins close to the original, with Bublath reminding that a strong left hand was alive and well in Europe long before it reemerged in New Orleans. The eight-plus-minute romp includes extended solos from Drummond, Bublath, and Kuroda, and some very inventive playing by Pinna, as it navigates towards Cuba. Huergo's beautifully melodic bass on "Ballad For The Universe" merits special recognition, and vibraphonist Tim Collins makes an appearance with a masterful solo on "Tomtom."
Diversity's enticing melodies, filled with intricate interplay, interesting transitions and time changes—sometimes understated and elegant, other times funky— encourage repeated spins when it's all over; that's the appealing music of Matthias Bublath.
Track Listing: Smooth As Silk; Los Tres Golpes;Wilde Maus; Faat King; Predule II; Ballad For The Universe; Ragga;Tarde En La Habana; Tomtom; Curumim; January.
Personnel: Matthias Bublath: piano, Hammond B3 organ;Franco Pinna: drums; Anne Drummond: flute;Takuya Kuroda: trumpet; Fernando Huergo: bass; Tim Collins: vibes.