|La Balteuband is a first release of rich harmonic and rhythmic beauty from the instrumental jazz ensemble of the same name led by Argentine composer-pianist Emilio Teubal. The band personnel are an interesting mix of New York-based musicians of international origin Spanish, Argentine, Brazilian, Japanese and Israeli. Their music marries jazz, classical and Argentine styles, largely composed, yet with outstanding solos from each one of the band members at some point along the musical journey which begins with the folk rhythm of the brief, bright A Caballo and ends with the moody twists and turns of the dense tango-jazz that is Sin Pestanias.
All of the material is original, all of it penned by Emilio Teubal except for the solo bass Intro that is track number eight. Fittingly, it is written by bassist Moto Fukushima. Drummer Franco Pinna is credited as co-arranger on two of the nine tracks. The musicianship throughout on the part of everyone is excellent and often exceptional.
It is during the second piece on the CD, Capinias, that the music really starts to engage me although I find the Off to see the Wizard musical quote a little off-putting when it pops up.
El Sausa, the third piece on La Balteuband, starts with a light, happy motif but proves to be a true heavyweight through its twelve-minute-plus evolution. It fuses Argentine rhythm, jazz, tango and haunting tonalities. There are definite shades of Astor Piazzolla, Egberto Gismonti and Debussy; Gil Evans layering and Mingus madness. Moto Fukushima plays a truly outstanding electric bass solo, very classical, sometimes Bach-like and sometimes like Spanish guitar skilfully underpinned and accented by drummer Franco Pinna. After the bass solo, the plaintive saxophone of Felipe Salles joins, developing into fierce passionate blowing and bringing us into the crux of the piece. The melodic motif is played ever faster until it is picked up by the piano which then plays alone as introspection replaces passion and the motif breaks down in one of the most delicately-executed jewel-toned piano passages on the CD. The motif will re-emerge, fluid and bright, joined by saxes and move into more composed territory until one sax rips off a line and the other tears off on another tangent. The piece ends with the same motif it started with, but transformed into something a little stronger.
Twisted Title, introduced by Kobi Salomons clarinet, is a melancholy piece with a dark tango piano line and shimmering surges of cymbals fully integrated with hot jazz. Historias Tristes, also mixing jazz with tango, features both flute and a clarinet solo which combines with some bird-like soprano sax against a rumbling bass. The piece develops a great bass groove, builds delicious tensions and features an interesting drum solo against 3 repeated bass notes.
AC in Ab is, at least at its outset, the most 'classical' piece on the CD with a long solo piano introduction reminiscent of Debussy, Satie and Piazzolla. It moves from there through South American rhythm, jazz comping and sax, a light touch of Rondo a la Turk, interesting drums and percussion and some exceptional bass.
Berry bounces and lilts along with a folk-jazz feel and faint hints of klezmer to a drum solo punctuated by a repeated piano line. The exquisite solo bass Intro flows smoothly into the last but definitely not least perhaps even the best (save the best for the last?) Sin Pestanias a great piece, and especially for modern jazz-tango-lovers, worth the whole CD.
reviewed by Joyce Corbett April 2007