Composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist, Christian Tamburr has mastered the art of musical communication, expression and creativity. Without the luxury of vocals, instrumentalists must rely on a pallet of notes, rhythms, sounds and phrasing to tell their story. Making a connection of feeling and emotion is the challenge.
Mr. Tamburr kicks open that door and confidently gives the listener a platform to feel the emotion and react. His music expertly begins an engaging conversation. All the listener needs to do is accept it and join in. The music veers clear of dictating the feeling so it can go in its own direction. The conversational musician which Mr. Tamburr has become produces an easy and natural attraction.
His instrument, the vibraphone, requires an intense sensitivity demanded by few instruments employed in a jazz context. It takes years of getting to know the inner workings and personality of the vibraphone for a master to coax out the elusive beauty. He/she must use dynamicsl, textures and note blends all controlled by the colorfully yarn-wrapped mallets. The work to achieve a beautiful sound must be appreciated. The result is like no other instrument and worth serious investigation. Again, Christian Tamburr has put in the time and is “one” with his instrument.
Music selected for “Places” includes something for everyone. Getting things started is a burning version of the mysterious Beatle classic “Eleanor Rigby”. The rhythm section builds a supportive, controlled pace for the soloists to present their own improvisational interpretations always showing respect for composer, John Lennon. Nice curious opening!
Most every jazz musician has done a version of “Body and Soul.” This quartet plays with the melody and rhythm in a way that ensures interest is captured. Never “mailing it in” on this often overplayed composition listen to the hide and seek approach that at the end of the day is really swinging and respectful of its roots.
The first original composition “Sailing Serenity” glides gently as a genuinely relaxed melody with a light yet driving rhythm section keeping all afloat. Each round of the musical form deals an intensified amount energy until passing solo duties from vibraphone to piano only to start anew. Peacefully intense!
The title composition “Places” jumps eagerly with a playful meter keeping things bouncing and energetic. The rhythm section drives and encourages Mr. Tamburr to elevate his playing ultimately relinquishing front line duties to Eric Reed’s piano which capably picks up and maintains a masterfully musical solo without hesitation. Beautifully swinging composition.
Good jazz ensembles know when to slow things down to catch its musical breath. Choosing the Kenny Baron composition, “Phantom” does just that. This eerie yet romantic ballad showcases the color and clarity of another combined vibraphone/piano interlude. Enough said, just listen when you need a cleansing from a stressful day. Prefect prescription!
“You the Night and the Music” begins with a clean, musical introduction with the drums Tamburr is coaxed to enter. A “cat and mouse” game ensues until the bass and piano joining in to make this 1934 Arthur Schwartz composition truly simmer. Very nice feature of the entire ensemble and especially drummer Greg Wyser-Pratte.
All good jazz quartets have a waltz or two in their bag. Christian Tamburr does not go to the standards bag here. Instead he offers his own composition, “Flower Waltz.” By this time, the quartet is finishing each other’s musical sentences. They fit light a favorite pair of jeans.
Chu’s Blues gives it up for ultra-supportive bassist John Shifflett, who gets some front time on this fun up tempo blues. Tamburr takes over and tap dances on the vibraphone with his own joyride only to again turn over control to pianist Eric Reed who builds his own message. Playfully trading fours with Wyser-Pratte ends this fun blues by sending it back to the melody for a final call. Swinging indeed.
Why not end with the powerful and emotionally charged ballad La Carretara written by Rafael Ferro and previously recorded by Julio Iglesias on his 1996 album of the same name. Fitting as Christian Tamburr served as Mr. Iglesias’ Musical Director for many years. Just try to find where the piano ends and the vibraphone begins. This is a fine example of pure ensemble playing.
So, take some time to get away either on a trip or with the close of your eyes. When you do, put Christian Tamburr’s CD “Places” on your packing list. See for yourself if you don’t end up in places you might not have dreamed of, whether close to home or far away.
Tracks: Eleanor Rigby, Body and Soul, Sailing Serenity, Places, Phantoms, You and the Night and the Music, Flower Waltz, Chu’s Blues, La Carretara.
Musicians: Christian Tamburr, Vibes, Eric Reed, Piano, John Shifflett, Bass, Greg Wyser-Pratte
Artist's Website: www.christiantamburr.com
These are my comments. I welcome yours.
Reviewed by: Bruce Pulver
Email me at: [email protected]