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"Extensions" Unbroken Sounds Records 2023



Downtown Music Gallery September 2023

Russian/American pianist, Simon Nabatov, is one of the most prolific and creative avant/jazz pianists that I’ve heard. Starting around 1988, Mr. Nabatov has more than 50 discs as a leader which are found on labels like Leo, Clean Feed & NoBusiness. He works with European and American musicians, playing in solos, duos, trios, quartets and more. Mr. Nabatov has been residing in Koln, Germany for a number of years and recording with musicians from that area. For this session, Nabatov has organized a fine sextet of musicians from Köln, none of whose names I recognize, although each one can be found on discs listed on Discogs. This disc was recorded live in Salon de Jazz in Cologne on October of 2022. The sextet starts off slowly and builds over time, the horns on top and the piano, 2 basses & drums swirling underneath. The overall vibe is calm and the band take their time to ascend, things getting more intense as they go. Mr. Nabatov is a powerful inventive pianist who always does a good job of pushing his band members higher. Both the soprano sax and trombone sound engaged and inspired, more simmering going on than very many eruptions. Drummer Maria Portugal sounds great on mallets towards the end of „Extension 1“, keeping a pulse going as they all flow together, solemn ghosts dancing in slow motion. The sextet comes together even more on „Extension 2“, with some strong interaction going on throughout. Mr. Nabatov’s sprawling piano is the centering force here, balancing the rhythm team with the horns just right. The excitement factor keeps escalating throughout this piece, with the basses buzzing underneath. It often sounds like this group has been playing together for a long while since everything here flows organically from section to section. This is one of the best and most focused improv discs I’ve heard recently.

Bruce Lee Gallanter