Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Instrumental Jazz CD of the Month - "Pablo Held: Elders"
Pablo Held: "Elders" (Pirouet)
Rating: ***** (musical performance & sonic quality)
Release date: November 23, 2013
Produced by Jason Seizer
Recorded (April 3-5, 2013) & Mixed (May 13 & 14, 2013) by Markus Born @ Kleine Audio Welt, Sandhausen
Mastered by Cristoph Stickel @ MSM-Studios, Munich
Cover Design & Photo: Konstantin Kern
Featuring: Pablo Held (acoustic piano), Robert Landfermann (acoustic bass), Jonas Burgwinkel (drums), Jason Seizer (tenor sax), Domenic Landolf (alto flute) & Ronny Graupe (acoustic guitar)
Pablo Held, one of my favorite contemporary jazz pianists, display a singular blend of intellect and emotion on "Elders," an impressive showcase of these combined facets as well as a CD that contains an atmosphere of musical warmth. The loose approach allows Held a great deal of melodic freedom as he weaves in and out of chord foundations, unconcerned with key centers and the like.
The repertoire includes five originals composed by Peter Held (Pablo's father and himself a talented pianist) plus amazing reconstructions of Wayne Shorter's title track "The Elders" (from Weather Report's controversial "Mr. Gone"), Joni Mitchell's "Marcie" (from her "Song To A Seagull" album, whose title track was brillianty jazzified by Don Sebesky & Paul Desmond in the 70s, for Don's "Giant Box" masterpiece), Frederic Mompou's "Secreto" (from Impresiones Intimas No. 8") and Manuel de Falla's "Nana," a lullaby from the song cycle "Siete Canciones Populares Españolas."
Pablo Held's expressive capabilities are dramatized by his increasing easy with rhythms and sound-space placement. The contributions of all his musical partners on this trip are essential to the final brilliant results, and the presence of Ronny Graupe's acoustic guitar adds an extra color to the scores.
This is chamber-jazz in free space, sometimes with quasi-abstract pulsations, full of rhythmic sophistication, while the horns paint over the chords with striking inflections. "Elders" presents a colorful musical world to discover, with music that revels in its beauty and surprising variety˜all for the listener's enjoyment. It reveals much of the past hidden in the present, and how the present can re-energize the past.
Born on December 27th, 1986, Pablo Held has won the first prize at Nordrhein-Westfalen's "Jugend Jazzt" three times - in 1999, 2003, and 2005, the first time as a twelve-year-old! He has played with, among others, the WDR Big Band, Manfred Schoof, Paul Heller, and Niels Klein. Held studied in Cologne with the outstanding German pianist Hubert Nuss. Held has alrady recorded 5 albums for the German label Pirouet, counting "Elders," scheduled for release on November 23.
I still prefer two of Pablo Held's earlier albums -- "Forest of Oblivion" (2008) and "Music" (2010), which placed him high in the past Arnaldo DeSouteiro's Jazz Station Polls, being voted "Best New Talent" in 2008 and #5 top acoustic piano player in 2010 -- as my personal favorites of all his Pirouet releases, but "Elders" comes closer to them.