How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
In every review of Pablo Held's debut, Forest of Oblivion, the pianist's age will be discussed. Don't blame the writers. Held, hailing from Germany, was born in 1986. His age, at the time the CD was recorded, was 21. It's a remarkably tender age for having crafted an original musical statement; it's even more remarkable for its high quality.
On this piano trio outing, the sound is thoughtful and introspective, to go with well-placed percussive forays and injections of energetic momentum; and if he must be put in a schoolas in the exuberantly percussive Bud Powell
's "Ana Maria," from the saxophonist's Native Dancer (Columbia Records, 1974), are also covered, as well as Federico Mompou's "Pajaro Triste."
The Mehdau comparison comes from the feeling that Held's compositions seem full of a smoldering energy that is restrainedin a very good sense of the wordby a high level of classical erudition. No surprise there. Held comes out of prodigy territory, winning blue ribbon awards when he was 10 years old. There is also a searching, wandering, circle-back-on-themselves aspect, combined with a rich depth, to his compositions that retain a constant sound of surprise.
Held's "Phasen" features gorgeously subtle trio interplay, with drummer Jonas Burgwinkle injecting some energetic percussive interludes into the pensive and delicate Held keyboard touch. "Phase II," the set's closer, ups that interplay/spontaneity ante a notch.
"Two Questions One Answer" has an insistent momentum, while "Interlude" begins with a deep inward look that ruminates over the course of nearly three minutes. "Melody" begins in a similarly inward fashion, and features Held's adroitly delicate touch. "Vertigo" enlivens the atmosphere with a gregarious feeling riding on bassist Robert Landermann's prowling lines and drummer Burwinkel's soft rumble.
Held's Myspace page lists a long line of influences, from Oliver Messiaen to Billy Strayhorn