Sunday, February 12, 2017

Simon Nabatov - Monk 'n' More (Leo Records, 2017)

Originally from the Soviet Union, pianist Simon Nabatov has built a very successful career, with many interesting projects as a solo pianist, collaborator and educator. This album  consists of two solo recordings made eighteen years apart, the first a selection of Thelonious Monk compositions from 1995, the second a concert from 2013 in which Nabatov first employed electronic instruments in performance to create a doppelganger of the piano. There is an interesting dichotomy with the pieces from different instruments and time periods interspersed within one another. Nabatov has a natural and rich approach to the piano, beginning with an infectious version of Monk's "Skippy" that dances and sways, easing the listener into the pianists conception of music. There are four untitled tracks called "Electroacoustic Extension" which are his experiments into electronics. These can vary from using the electronics to develop a clipped rhythm, to selections that offer the sounds of a player piano in outer space. Nabatov isn't afraid to experiment, and if those selections start to intimidate the listener, he is quick to add further Monk interpretations, whether the more obscure "Oska T" to the familiar compositions "Epistrophy" and "Pannonica" where he draws on the melodic strength of the source material to create very appealing improvisations of his own. Monk warped space and time with his unique musical interpretations, and Nabatov does the same on his electronic experiments, bending and warping the fabric of the music and looking for new ways to approach sound. Moving back and forth with each approach can be startling, but it jars the listener out of complacency forcing them the take stock of Nabatov's approaches to both the familiar and the challenging sides of music. Monk 'n' More -

Send comments to Tim.