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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Around Brazil

Act 9754-2


1. Desde Que o Samba e Samba
2. Estrada do Sol
3. Partita de Marco
4. Nene
5. Eu Vim da Bahia
6. Depois Que o Ile Passar
7. Na Baxia do Sapateiro
8. My Sertao
9. Valsa de Porto Das Caixas
10. Qualquer Coisa

11. Voce e Linda
Simon Nabatov – Piano

Russian-born pianist Simon Nabatov is a chameleon. When I first heard him, he was playing Benny Goodman-style jazz on the 1996 album Swing Kings with vibist Wolfgang Schluter and drummer Charly Antolini. Even in this conventional setting, one could tell that Nabatov was special – not only capabale of playing classy Teddy Wilson-type piano but also displaying the most astonishing technique: creating phenomenal runs that would have made Art Tatum proud, while also treating the piano as a playground for mischievously anarchic fun.

Other Nabatov albums have emphasised his anarchy, with adventurous experiments which often explored the farthest boundaries of the avant-garde. Both (or all) sides of his nature are present on this album, which lets Nabatov loose in a repertoire of Brazilian tunes, including a couple by Antonio Carlos Jobim and three by Caetano Veloso. Simon suggests Brazilian rhythms rather than emphasizing them – and without any need for help from percussionists. Indeed, a percussionist would find it hard to keep up with the fecundity of his imagination. On Estrada do Sol, for example, his hands seem to play two entirely different rhythms at once. His own composition, My Sertao, sounds like a classical toccata with an underlying Latin pulse. Other tracks, like Gilberto Gil’s Eu Vim da Bahia, display a gentler, more lyrical side to Nabatov.

My favourite track of all is Partita de Marco, a ten-minute tour de force which starts as if it was written by Stockhausen – jumping about all over the piano, like an avant-garde kitten on the keys. Musical lines come at the listener from all directions before the improvisation settles down into Jobim’s beautiful Waters of March, decorated with gorgeous rivulets of sound flowing from the keyboard. Simon Nabatov seems capable of playing anything – but then he was trained at the Moscow Conservatory and the Julliard school.

The sound is translucent – recorded at the Rainbow Studio in Oslo last September. If you care about good jazz – or good music of any kind – you need to buy this CD.

Tony Augarde

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