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Matthias Bublath: Voices

Woodrow Wilkins By

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Variety is said to be the spice of life. Taken one further, musical variety is the spice of a happy existence. Pianist, organist, composer and arranger Matthias Bublath easily shifts from Brazilian to Afro-Cuban, from jazz and R&B to gospel and funk.

Bublath has performed at many festivals and events around the world, including the Montreux Jazz Festival. He works New York-area jazz clubs, as well as engages himself in composing and arranging for various ensembles, motion pictures and television. On Voices, his core trio includes bassist Tim Lefebvre and drummer Zach Danziger.

"Nice Green Bo" is a fresh, invigorating example of originality, at the same time bringing to mind some of the soul-jazz instrumentals of the 1960s and early '70s by the likes of Isaac Hayes and Booker T. and the M.G.s. A three-piece horn section joins the base trio, mainly featuring flutist Anne Drummond. If there's a fault with this album, it's that Drummond appears only on two songs. Her middle solo is the main highlight among several. Danziger's stick work behind the leads is striking, as is Lefebvre's bass line. After Bublath's piano solo, he and Lefebvre carry the rhythm while Danziger gets to stretch out. Tenor saxophonist Ezra Brown and trumpeter Takuya Kuroda complete the ensemble.

Bublath switches to the B3 for the cool, funky "Faatuchine Al Forno." The tenor is more involved here, and even leads on the melody. After a bass solo, the tenor steps out front again, underscored by a finger-snapping groove. Kuroda also gets a chance to show what he's got and Bublath then doubles on the Rhodes for a solo halfway the track. Trumpet and sax finally harmonize on the melody to set up the closing sequence.

Lefebvre and Danziger really rip it up on "Shiftin' Funk." Bublath darts back and forth from B3 to Rhodes, turning his time up front into a duet. Kuroda and Brown may lead on the melody, but this is clearly a showcase for the base trio.

Bublath composed all ten songs on Voices. All but two are upwards of six minutes long, giving the musicians plenty of room to interact with one another. And while certain selections may fit a particular style, the overall project represents several sides of Bublath's writing skills. In addition to the horns, vibraphonist Tim Collins appears on several tracks.

Track Listing: Nice Green Bo; Faatuchine Al Forno; Voices; Dr. U; I.D.; Hectivity; Shiftin' Funk; Uni Intro; Universe; Bangkok Tasty.

Personnel: Matthias Bublath: piano, Fender Rhodes, Hammond B-3 organ; Zach Danziger: drums; Tim Lefebvre: bass; Ezra Brown: tenor sax (1, 2, 4, 5, 7); Takuya Kuroda: trumpet (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10); Tim Collins: vibes (3, 5, 6, 9, 10); Anne Drummond: flute (1, 6).

Title: Voices | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Downhill Studio

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