The spectacular collision of cultures raining down of music in the Latin idiom has brought with it a proverbial deluge of the most wonderful shower of metaphor and idiom, melody and rhythm and harmonics of a tantalizingly high order. This fine record Un Monton de Notas (Not Yet Records) by Emilio Teubal and his grupo projecto, La Balteuband is another fine example. Here is a nonet led by the Spanish-born Argentenian pianist and composer that has literally opened the mystical gates of oceans of music in a record that describes a courageous musical journey. It crosses continents, leaps out of Cordoba, Spain, dives into the heartland of Argentina, then emerges from the deep and dense recesses of the Brasilian Northeast in an explosion of propulsive dynamic energy, and takes off into interstellar space.
There is not enough space here to discuss how this happens in music, repeatedly; it is a matter of fact now. The real trick is to shut the eyes and give into the music, body and soul. The music of this nonet is so seductive that it is impossible not to be drawn into this world and virtually hypnotised. Teubal is a gifted musician and composer and has an inner ear that is sharp and intelligent. He hears music differently. Much of this lies in a multiplicity of tonal densities of various woodwinds and horns – ranging from the flute and soprano saxophone to the bass clarinet. This approach appears to superceed everything and his music is presented with the richly woven voices of these lead instruments.
Sometimes he will poke through with the piano or Rhodes to assert a certain rhythmic harmony. His use of the cello is inspired and on “Un Monton de Notas,” this wonderful instrument is played with equal virtuosity by Greg Heffernan. This track is stellar, a complex blend of maracatu rhythms that conjour a feverish ritual that is showered with melodic ingenuity. There is rarely such excitement in a song and such propulsive rhythm. It is possible – very possible that only Egberto Gismonti’s majestic compositions could have inspired such a richly textured piece.
However, there is much more to recommend this record as one of the year’s finest. “Ping Pong,” opens with a rhythmic piano figure and develops into a superb visual expression with a puckish tête-à-tête between the soprano saxophones of Xavier Perez and Felipe Salles. The mood and textures change dramatically with “Before the Outerspace,” where Felipe Salles creates a dramatic effect with beautifully toned bass clarinet. His speech-like modes are maintaining the dramatic tension of the song.
“X-cetera (after)” is an interesting composition where the melody states an obverse rhyming meter. The two tenors trading 8’s for some time and they make way for the dark piano, bass and percussion to lead the song into an extended piano improvisation that is urged on by the thundering cajon and rumble of the bass.
“El Amanecido” is a nervy polka that pits piano against percussion and horns in a rather jazzy chamane. ”Baguala” is stately, almost dolorous and brings to life a tstely dance form that stradles Argentina and Bolivia. The highlight once again is the superbly arranged dense tonal textures of the clarinets that color the piece and play off the tinkling piano beautifully executed and winds down with a swaggering blues ending. “(T) La Arania 08” is cast in the mould of a chorinho and is outstandingly authentic.
Teubal pays rich tribute to the music that might have first fired up his young imagination to conclude this memorable set. There is a fine piece; “A la Pantalla A” that turns the music awash with the rhythmic extravagance of Cordoba. This is an intense set and brings further evidence that Emilio Teubal is making a name for himself among the growing roster of young modern pianists and musicians.
Tracks: Ping Pong; Before the Outerspace; X-cetera (after); Un Monton de Notas; El Amanecido; Baguala; (T) La Arania; A la Pantalla A; Coda.
Personnel: Emilio Teubal: piano, Fender Rhodes, accordion; Xavier Perez: soprano saxophone (1, 3, 5, 8), tenor saxophone (2, 3, 6), flute (7); Felipe Salles: tenor saxophone (3, 5, 8, 9), soprano saxophone (1, 7), bass clarinet, flute (4); Moto Fukushima: six-string electric bass and effects; Franco Prima: drum set, bombo leguero; Kobi Solomon: clarinet (3, 4); Ivan Barenboim: clarinet (2, 4, 6, 7); Greg Heffernan: cello (4); Marelo Woloski: percussion (2, 4, 7), hand-clapping (1, 5).
Emilio Teubal and La Balteuband on the web: www.myspace.com/labalteuband
Review written by: Raul da Gama