David Helbock’s Random Control ‘Tour d`Horizon – from Brubeck to Zawinul’ CD (ACT) 3/5

Here is an example of how the ACT label is keen to endorse musical projects that other labels might turn their back on and should be commended for such endeavours. This is a trio with a difference; tuba/trumpet, piano and electronics, multiple reed instruments. Hardly the kind of trio one might expect for an exploration of the compositions of major pianists/composers, but that is precisely what this trio is about. In fact, some twenty instruments and more are used by the three musicians on this album. The result is some unexpected triumphs among the inevitable hits and misses of such a courageous project. A reworking of the Adagio from ‘Concierto de Aranjuez’ by Spanish classical composer Rodrigo effortlessly merges into Chick Corea’s ode to all things to evoke the Iberian peninsular in ‘Spain’, and that Latin feel is continued to good effect on Cedar Walton’s ‘Bolivia’, with the piano interestingly performed like a celeste. Maybe the project as a whole would have benefited from an entire album’s worth of Latin-based material where there is probably greater scope for artistic liberties to be taken with the use of instrumentation. However, a take on the soul-jazz classic of the Cannonball Adderley band and a Joe Zawinul composition, ‘Mercy, Mercy, Mercy’, receives a bright and breezy interpretation. Not everything is as convincing and the trio’s interpretation of EST’s ‘Seven Days of Falling’, is barely recognisable, and the same can also be said of Duke Ellington’s ‘In A Sentimental Mood’. Nonetheless, producer Siggi Loch is to be congratulated for even attempting such a project and the music itself builds upon the 2016 debut recording by the trio on ACT, ‘In The Mystic’.

Tim Stenhouse