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Paul Hubweber / Philip Zoubek: Archiduc Concert: Dansaert Variations

Raul d'Gama Rose By

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Paul Hubweber's trombone may be pitched in Bb, as all tenor trombones are, an octave below the trumpet, but the trombonist being an itinerant spirit, makes twists and turns of pitch and, therefore, timbre, until he turns his instrument into a chorus of voices. On Archduc Concert : Dansaert Variations Hubweber comes bursting out of the tailgate dragging the ethereal voices of Rex Stewart and his jungle growls, the smears, blues shouts and pleading human moans of Roswell Rudd and the ingenious voicings of Albert Mangelsdorff, as he bleats and sings two and three notes through the palpitating embouchure that he seems to have made his own. How is it possible? Paul Hubweber has crafted a dense, all encompassing style as he voices his improvised music through his instrument of choice: the all-but-human trombone.

Hubweber breathes like a yogi in complete control of the breath that he takes into his lungs. He then expels it all in a circular manner, quite miserly actually, as he annunciates speech-like, blowing fabulous melody and harmony all rolled into one. His mechanizations sometimes drift plaintively and horizontally, then soar majestically as he coaxes the Variation always forward. Hubweber, then manipulates music on two planes—the horizontal, melodic one, which again he embellishes with multiple notes, triads and stunning leaps of fancy and the vertical chorale in which he creates harmonies that groan, growl and burst forth brilliantly over the melodic impetus of the music.

The trombonist's excursions find a willing and equally creative partner in pianist Philip Zoubek, whose prepared piano is a match for the intervallic leaps of Hubweber's trombone. In "Mean Machine" both men seem to leap off a platform created by the bebop of Charlie Parker only to fly in the face of convention thereafter. The smoldering mid-section of this piece is a perfect vehicle for pianist and trombonist to hiss and spit at each other as they urge the music forward with longer leaps into the depths of the unknown. "Plexo," that other long section in the Dansaert Variations is connected with the premier longer variation only in as much as the interplay between piano and trombone is almost butterfly like, both instruments flapping and soaring in flights of unison as they explore themes together. "Lab 4" and "Plafond" interweave and connect the main themes—those gruff and gentle smears and whispers that characterize the piece.

This is an important album in the oeuvre of improvised music. Hubweber and Zoubek seem to both pay tribute to Mangelsdorf and Wolfgang Dauner, as well as thrust forward, continuing from where that dramatic duo left off when Mangelsdorf died quite suddenly.

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