Matthias Bublath: Oceans (2013)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Pianist Matthias Bublath works at the crossroads where consistency and diversity meet; the consistency comes with his sound, vision and personnel choices while the diversity connects to the type(s) of music he presents.
For Oceans, the German-born, New York-based pianist reconvened the same quintet that birthed his prior album, the highly enjoyable Harvest On The Moon (Self Produced, 2011). Here, the group makes its way through a mixture of music that's alternately funky ("Pocket"), peppy ("Flood") and dreamy ("Wasserburg"). No single style dominates the proceedings, but virtually everything can be traced back to the same piano-playing, songwriting source at the helm of the ship. One minute, Bublath is looking toward Brazil, delivering some lively pseudo-choro music ("Hectivity"), but the next minute he's playing it smooth and groovy ("Sweet Melody"). This is but one example of his open embrace on diversity; the two covers on the albuma relatively calm but budding take on Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" and an attractive performance of Paquito D'Rivera's "Como Un Bolero"is another.
Bublath's most interesting original material tends to shift gears in unexpected ways, as on the album-opening, odd-metered "Ocean Sunfish," which takes mid-song turns toward Cuba and, later, New Orleans; the energetic "Let's Fetz," which features some killer trumpet work from Takuya Kuroda, and the rollicking "Whalewatch," which eventually reaches the pulpit to testify in churchy fashion, also fall into this category.
While the pianist is the star of his own show, his band mates help to elevate these performances. Flautist Anne Drummond is a ray of sunshine and joy, Kuroda is passionate and purely driven, and the rhythm team of drummer Franco Pinna and bassist Fernando Huergo does a fine job steering the ship. All five musicians find common ground throughout.
Bublath's Oceans is a vast, ever-reaching body of work that's wondrous and beautiful to behold.
Track Listing: Ocean Sunfish; Black Hole Sun; Whalewatch; Como Un Bolero; Pocket; Flood;
Wasserburg; Let's Fetz; Opener; Hectivity; Sweet Melody.
Personnel: Matthias Bublath: piano; Anne Drummond: flute; Takuya Kuroda: trumpet; Franco
Pinna: drums; Fernando Huergo: bass.
Record Label: Self Produced
Style: Modern Jazz