David Helbock’s Random Control: Tour D’Horizon – From Brubeck to Zawinul

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Three musicians, more than 20 instruments, and the widest range of sounds you can possibly imagine is perhaps the best way to sum up this album. Helbock explores pieces by his favourite jazz pianists, those who have expanded his own horizons. And yes, Helbock knows that “Take Five” was written by Paul Desmond, and “Blue in Green” by Miles Davis, but he’s included them anyway because of the distinctive interpretations the pianists in question (Dave Brubeck and Bill Evans) brought to the performances.

Now that’s cleared up, what’s the music actually like? The Random Control treatment of the material lends them occasionally other-world sounds, with bangs, echos and other things added to the mix. Such an approach works well on Abdullah Ibrahim’s thunderous “African Marketplace” to get things started, but it’s not always successful. Ellington’s lovely “In A Sentimental Mood” sounds like it’s been mucked about with for the sake of it, which leads on to the question of what such interpretations add to the original.

Overall, this is well-crafted and engaging stuff, occasionally experimental for the sake of it perhaps, but it is skilfully done.

Keith Jarrett’s “My Song” has special meaning for Holbock as his mother listened to Jarrett’s music throughout her pregnancy, so there is clearly a strong connection between artist and his musical choices. The album also has the distinction of being only the second I’ve reviewed which features didgeridoo as part of a jazz line-up.

Discography
African Marketplace; Seven Days of Falling; Concierto de Aranjuez – Adagio; Spain; In a Sentimental Mood; Mercy, Mercy, Mercy; Blue in Green; Watermelon Man; My Song; Utviklingssang; Bolivia; Take Five (50.06)
Helbock (p, elec, pc); Andreas Broger (ts, ss, cl, bcl, f, recorder, elec, pc, flh); Johannes Bar (t, flh, bass flh, tu, didgeridoo, elec, pc). Berlin, 11-12 December 2017.
ACT 9869