December 2005

Nils Wogram and Simon Nabatov
The Move
Between The Lines

The fact that my personal tastes run to such esoteric extremes sometimes causes me to forget that weirdness is not an absolute. There are degrees of weird, and sometimes being just a little weird is plenty weird enough. Compared with most things I review, the music made by pianist Simon Nabotov and trombonist Nils Wogram is rather conservative, but in a real- world sense, it's quirky and original enough to give pleasure even to someone as jaded as me.

The duo plays a mostly tonal music, and traditional, chord-based composition plays as great a role in their music as improvisation. Much of what they do can't be considered "outside" by any measure. "Herbie and Pierre"s bluesy vamp could have come off a Dr. John album, and the ragtime episode from "Itapo" might as well have been lifted from Scott Joplin. Pastiche abounds, and sometimes it gets a bit thick (the music box at the end of "Simple Sentiment" is more than a bit heavy-handed). For the most part, however, the humor is light and engaging. In any case, the pair's skill and good musical sense put the music over.

Originally published in December 2005
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