Second Angle is the third CD from New York-based organist/pianist and composer Matthias Bublath. His two previous releases saw him exploring two disparate sound-worlds individually: Latin music and jazz/funk. Here, with the help of vibraphonist Tim Collins, drummer Obed Calvaire, and saxophonist Scott Bourgeois, Bublath seeks to unify and consolidate these ideas rather than segregating them.
The unique instrumentation provides a wide range of possible colors and timbres, all of which are exploited fully by the group. Collins shares the accompaniment with the well-educated hands and feet of Bublath, and both are given equal time at the fore alongside Bourgeois. Calvaire's playing is without doubt exemplar; never overwhelming, always supportive, and never ceasing to challenge his band-mates in rhythmic discussion.
Confronted with such a wide spectrum of influences including funk, jazz, gospel and Afro Cuban, Bublath focuses in on the common core from each style: rhythm. Equally at home in swing time or straight meter, his phrasing and placement of both single lines and accompaniment seethes with rhythmic spice and precision. This is especially evident when supporting Bourgeois and Collins: organ and drums sound one and the same, yet in reality there is a constant, organic discourse of rhythmic figures and phrases. His solos are adventurous, but never at the cost of musicality, combining legato organ lines with ideas more commonly heard on piano (on previous outings he played both).
"Africa" provides a perfect example of the band's approach on this album. Beginning with a humble, jazz-infused melody, a loose and bustling accompaniment slowly creeps to the foreground acting as the backbone and catalyst for a exhilarating samba-esque jam. Soli figures intertwine with characterful improvisation and driving rhythmic ideas. This is a group which doesn't just shift gears jarringly in the middle of tracks. Rather, they drive more like an smooth automatic, slowly segueing between feels with a sense of growth which seem natural, and always compels.
The compositions are well executed and varied, from the bright and vivid "Dump The Goose," to the slow boiling "Sweet Melody" and the raunchy, infectious swing of "Silvershining." The forms used are well thought out and implemented, providing ample space for the band to stretch out without sounding repetitive. No track fizzles out either, with the endings all being strongly composed and definitely not afterthoughts. A fine example is "Humidifier," which is brought expertly to conclusion by Calvaire with a veritable master-class on drum breaks.
Second Angle provides everything expected from a jazz organ album: pedal bass, swirling swells and sizzling improvisation. Alongside all that, Matthias Bublah brings his exquisite faculty on the organ, a talented supporting cast, and a solid command of his music, creating an album deserving of recognition, praise and enjoyment.
Personnel: Matthias Bablath: Hammond B3 Organ; Tim Collins: vibes; Scott Bourgeois: soprano sax;
Obed Calvaire: drums.