Emilio Teubal – Música Para Un Dragón Dormido

“When music works in such a glorious manner the individual songs leave their mark not just on the mind, for this would be just intellectual. In fact the music is deeply wrought with emotion that comes from the very soul of Emilio Teubal.”

The intellect of the Argentine musician Emilio Teubal is not the only facet of his musical personality to enjoy on his fine album Música Para Un Dragón Dormido (Music for a sleeping dragon). Mr. Teubal is also a fine storyteller with an unbridled imagination and playfulness that is reminiscent of his legendary countryman, the writer Jorge Luis Borges. Like the master littérateur, Mr. Teubal delves into the world of magical realism, which seems to be a universe where he spends much of his time as a composer of music. This gives his compositions great character, a sense of mystery and colourful playfulness that is rare in music today. Along with this Mr. Teubal has a knack of telling his stories with brevity, fetching emotion and an intense kind of love that bonds him to the characters who inhabit his music roaming freely as if they had found their raison d’être and were rejoicing in it. Mr. Teubal’s music is that elementally beautiful. What makes this so is his wonderful sense of melody, grand vision of harmony and the fact that his music is rooted in the magnetic charms of Argentine folk music.

Mr. Teubal writes refreshing melodies. These are cognizant of the sublime and singular character of each of the notes contained in each phrase and how they work in consonance to make up ornamental lines in melodic sequences. Imparting an unusual rhythm and tempo hidden away in the timbre and texture of how each note is played—and this is driven by Mr. Teubal’s exquisite expression—the pianist seems to give almost individual character to each of the note as they traipse and gambol across the keyboard. While not really being a minimalist, Mr. Teubal is also acutely aware of silence and space and makes broad use of this in the lines that he creates. Then over this the pianist seems to apply layer upon payer of colour. This he does by playing with harmony in a bracing manner. First of all Mr. Teubal is a master of counterpoint—at least on this album. The cross currents are gorgeously intertwined between piano and bass. Atop this the composer applies his own bass line, over and above that played by bassist, Moto Fukushima. This molten somewhat viscous harmony is then blended with the vocal line of the saxophone or clarinet of Sam Sadigursky and of course the howling cello of Erik Friedlander, as the case may be. All of this glittering is sublimated in the colourful percussion of John Hadfield and that exquisite colourist, Satoshi Takeishi.

When music works in such a glorious manner the individual songs leave their mark not just on the mind, for this would be just intellectual. In fact the music is deeply wrought with emotion that comes from the very soul of Emilio Teubal. While it might seem that the music is at times programmatic—as in “The Constant Reinventor” and the absolutely majestic “El Acróbata”—Mr. Teubal’s work is actually soaked in the emotions of loneliness and melancholia. In fact so strong are these feelings in the latter chart that it might have an elementally sad effect on the listener who hears music with the heart. But there is also a refreshing joyousness in charts such as “Un Simple Objeto” and to a great extent in “Nikko” as well as “El Tema de Ludmila”. It is “Un Dragon Dormido” that is one of the most vivid pieces on this extraordinary album. Here the ensemble is at its best as the musicians bring to life the mysterious and magical bestiary in which realm the character lives and breathes. The remarkable manner in which Mr. Teubal can create life-like images with musical notes is truly special. Of course much of this is due to the fact that his musical cohort is so finely tuned into his and each of their minds has everything to do with the bright and realistic interpretation of this unique music.

In fact it is very possible that Emilio Teubal may have emerged as one of the most outstanding musicians from Argentina, with this record that will surely mark him as one of the deepest thinkers as well as one of the most “painterly” pianists in modern music.

Tracks: Un Simple Objeto; The Constant Reinventor; el Tema de Ludmila; El Acróbata; Un Dragón Dormido; La Espersa; Nikko; La Perla; Milonga Para Terminar.

Personnel: Emilio Teubal: piano, Korg SV-1; Sam Sadigursky: clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute; John Hadfield: percussion; Moto Fukushima: six-string electric bass; Erik Friedlander: cello; Satoshi Takeishi: percussion, cajón (1, 4, 5, 7, 9).

Emilio Teubal on the Web: emilioteubal.com

Label: Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records | Release date: April 2013

Reviewed by: Raul da Gama