By DAN BILAWSKY, Published: December 15, 2011
Musicians and farmers may have far different day-to-day routines, but they have at least one thing in common: when their work reaches full maturation, it must be harvested for public consumption. Those digesting the end result of their hard work may not think twice about how it ends up in their hands, but they know the difference between rotten and succulent. Taste, flavor, and freshness are important indicators of a quality product, and these ripe items plucked from the mind of Matthias Bublath score high on all three counts.
Bublath, a German-born, New York-based pianist and composer, leads a multicultural contingent of five through an appealing program that touches on various Latin jazz idioms, contemporary stylings, funk, and more. The success of this music can be found in Bublath's ability to deliver change-ups that always keep things interesting, while also providing common denominators under most tracks, like strong soloing, appealing harmonies, and interesting sonic blends. Contemporary funk ("Harvest On The Moon") and festive fare ("African Boogie") serve as the entry point to the album, but each song that follows takes a different path. "¡Digame!" starts off with a 2-3 son clavé, and marries Afro-Cuban ideology with a generally funky sound, while Cesar Camargo Mariano's "Samambaia" is a more subdued number that looks toward Brazil, "Flor De Lino" finds Bublath tackling tango, and "Bigfoot" avoids Latin trappings of any kind, while beautifully humanizing its namesake.
Bublath's decision to use a two-horn frontline doesn't distinguish his music from that of his peers, but his choice of horns does. The combination of flute and trumpet in this type of setting is fairly unique, and it's a wonder that more people haven't investigated it. Flautist Anne Drummond—best-known for her work with pianist Kenny Barron and vibraphonist Stefon Harris—and trumpeter Takuya Kuroda both shine as soloists, and prove to be grist for the musical mill. Bublath alternately blends them together, sets them apart, and marries them to his own layered piano, keyboard and/or organ sounds, or simply gives them the space they deserve to shine. On the rhythm end of things, Bublath turns to the Argentine-born duo of bassist Fernando Huergo and drummer Franco Pinna, and they never disappoint. While showing an obvious affinity for the Latin-leaning material, they also demonstrate great skill in shaping and shading songs that aren't as easily defined ("Bigfoot"). All five musicians make their mark as separate entities, but the sum total of their talents is even greater than the individual parts.
Matthias Bublath really hit pay dirt with this bountiful supply of arresting music. Harvest On The Moon is a gem.
Track Listing: Harvest On The Moon; African Boogie; ¡Digame!; Samambaia; Bigfoot; Jazzschool; Night Shift; Der Wurm; Homenaje; El Barrio; Flor De Lino.
Personnel: Matthias Bublath: piano, Hammond B3 organ, keyboards; Anne Drummond: flute; Takuya Kuroda: trumpet; Fernando Huergo: bass; Franco Pinna: drums.