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Bruno Hubert: Live @ The Cellar

Raul d'Gama Rose By

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It seems that Bruno Hubert's hands can work independently of each other, creating a unique kind of excitement on Live @ The Cellar, sounding, at times, like two pianos. He can also, it appears, keep two ideas going at one time and that is one hell of a wonderful trick to play on the unsuspecting. Because of this wonderful faculty, almost like being ambidextrous, he is able to create arabesques with right and left hand—not unlike Art Tatum and others right down to Oscar Peterson. But listening to Hubert on this record is rather like listening to songs from two different perspectives. This makes the record in question a unique experience.

Hubert also has an innate ability to create new things as he plays a song—even an established song. He does not take apart the melody as might be suspected, but rather he simply devours a piece of music and when he regurgitates it, his flying fingers recreating it so spectacularly that it sounds completely new, quite beyond the lesser ability to make an old thing new. This makes him unlike any pianist who exists today. If any parallel may be suggested not by his playing, but by his approach, that musician may be Herbie Nichols. Like Nichols, Hubert's approach is so suggestive it borders on program music. Of course it is not, but then it is so graphic that it could well be so.

On this record, Hubert plays nine songs—all written by other musicians—but he has made every one so uniquely his own—"Sweet And Sour," for instance, does not sound like a Wayne Shorter piece; nor, for that matter, does "Edda." Remarkably, neither does such a recognizable song as "Lush Life," one of Billy Strayhorn's most recognizable works or "Joy Spring," originally from the pen of Clifford Brown. Perhaps the secret lies in the choice of notes and their intervals and not just the chord changes intrinsic to the piece. He can also make a note dally almost interminably, so that it appears to hang in time and space, almost like a dewdrop that takes its own time to fall off the sharpest edge of a leaf. In playing music this way, Hubert is able to set up his cohorts—Brad Turner on drums and Andre Lachance on bass—for something quite unexpected.

The result is a magnificent set, so full of surprises. The Beatles' chart, "In My Life," and Clifford Brown's "Joy Spring" are wonderful examples. Even on "My One And Only Love," which starts as if it is going to be another standard, he rushes, then delays each line as if the song may turn out to be something quite different altogether. Then he breaks up the rhythm forcing Turner and Lachance to follow suit. Then comes his only composition on this record, "Latina La Cap," just when least expected. It is a bright, rollicking song, played as only Hubert can on a memorable set.

Track Listing: Sweet And Sour; In My Life; Dolphin Dance; Lush Life; Edda; Sempre Amore; Joy Spring; My One And Only Love; Latina La Cap.

Personnel: Bruno Hubert: piano; Andre Lachance: bass; Brad Turner: drums.

Title: Live @ The Cellar | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Cellar Live

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