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Pablo Held: Music

Dan McClenaghan By

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German piano prodigy Pablo Held debuted as a leader with Forest of Oblivion (Pirouet Records, 2009), an album of surprising depth, suffused with a romantic European feeling. Subtle and smooth-flowing, it was full of nuance and smoldering interludes that would, at times, burst into roaring percussive flames. Held was only 21 years of age at the time of this tremendous debut, but his stand-above-the-crowd talent was obvious.

Music, the artist's sophomore effort, carries on in the same thoughtful vein. His approach has been compared to Brad Mehldau, with a classical foundation underlying the improvisational aspect of jazz. His sound is similar, also, to Marc Copland, with its searching, drifting melodies and unfailingly gorgeous harmonic sophistication.

Music consists of eight Held originals, Herbie Hancock's "I Have a Dream" and Oliver Messiaen's "O Sacrum Convivium." The set opens with "Encore," sounding like a slowly unfolding mystery. The trio dynamics, featuring drummer Robert Landfermann and bassist Jonas Burgwinkel, expand and contract, from a gentle whisper to an edgy turbulence. The Hancock cover explores an inward feeling; a cerebral mood infused with nuanced sparkle.

"Desire" evokes an introvert's deep reverie, beginning with five minutes of unhurried solo piano, before bass and drums sneak in the back door with a steady heartbeat and feet treading a rhythm on the floor. "Moon 44" has a relentless momentum injected into its bright atmosphere and abstract groove.

The title tune is a vivacious highlight—an unpretentious, upbeat journey into the purity of sonic beauty, with a Bill Evans vibe. The closing "Arista" is a spacious, glittering gem of a tune with a prowling rhythm behind the leader's succinct sparkle.

Music is Held's second classy, top-notch outing, with a fully realized approach to the piano trio format.

Track Listing: Encore; I Have a Dream; Desire; Moon 44; O Sacrum Convivium; Nearness; Log Lady; Music; Klartraum; Arista.

Personnel: Pablo Held: piano; Robert Landfermann: bass; Jonas Burgwinkel: drums.

Title: Music | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Pirouet Records

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