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Pablo Bobrowicky: New York Connection

John Kelman By

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For his third album on the Italian Red label, Argentinean guitarist Pablo Bobrowicky relocated to New York City, recruiting the increasingly ubiquitous pianist Edward Simon and bassist Eric Revis, along with drummer Bruce Cox. The resulting set demonstrates Bobrowicky's supple tone and tastefully executed conception.

In a recent interview pianist Marc Copland described guitarist John Abercrombie as "a direct descendant of Jim Hall's approach to guitar—he thinks about what he's going to play before he plays it, what kind of chord he'll play and how it'll sound. The same description could easily be applied to Bobrowicky, an economical player whose every note seems carefully considered and judiciously placed. New York Connection doesn't break any new ground, but it sits comfortably in the mainstream, elevated more by the quality of the players than by the material itself.

Still, Bobrowicky's writing provides a certain degree of challenge by virtue of some of its twists and turns—the jazz waltz "Malbec has an understated kind of intensity and some unexpected changes, demanding that the soloist find a common thread through them. "One for Evans is somewhat deceptive in its easygoing lope; the changes are once again not entirely predictable, keeping the players on their toes.

But as much as Bobrowicky's writing presents its own set of subtle demands, it's always highly accessible. His playing is relaxed and unhurried, as is that of Simon, a pianist who has been proving himself an accompanist with a wide reach on recent albums with alto saxophonist David Binney, not to mention his own recordings for Criss Cross and Red Records. And while Bobrowicky's obvious Latin roots are in evidence on some of the recording—most notably on the Joe Henderson composition "Y Todavia la Quiero and his own Afro-Cuban "Some Changes, he has managed to transcend his roots, like the Venezuelan-born Simon. Clearly they're a part of who he is, but they don't dominate. He's just as comfortable with the soul jazz of "Suns as he is with the more urban feel of "NY Connection.

Bringing some added colour to the three cover tunes on the disc—Joe Henderson's "Y Todavia la Quiero and "Black Narcissus, as well as Sonny Rollins' "Plain Jane —Bobrowicky includes an unusual section of flute, trumpet/flugelhorn, and trombone/bass trombone. It's a curious thing, as the two brass instruments seem to occupy a different sonic space than the flute. And yet the combination seems to work, with each member of the section getting a chance to stretch out on one of the three tunes. This clever diversion helps break up the more consistent and perhaps conventional sound of the guitar-piano-bass-drums lineup.

Bobrowicky may not be the kind of player who announces himself with great assertion; still, he makes himself heard with authority, and while time will tell as to whether he will evolve into a more significant artist, New York Connection is nevertheless a fine album of contemporary mainstream music with plenty of appeal.

Visit Pablo Bobrowicky on the web.


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