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Austrian, Cologne-based pianist Philip Zoubek presents his acoustic piano trio as an antithesis to the popular chamber jazz trios coming from the Bill Evans school and characterized by individual, patient manipulation of the music. Zoubek wants more from his new trio. Not only control and sensitivity but also high-energy and urgent intensity, channeled into a tight and collective interplay. He adds that he was always interested in pianists who never settled on one dimension of the music: Lennie Tristano, Paul Bley, Masabumi Kikuchi or Glenn Gould and adds to the list of seminal influences composers as Iannis Xenakis and Morton Feldman.

Zoubek new trio with double bass player David Helm and percussionist Dominik Mahnig began to work in 2018 and now releases its debut album «Outside». The trio asserts clearly and loudly its collective strategy.

Zoubek states briefly the restless themes but then the whole trio articulates it, clashes with its fragments and together abstracts the theme in a manner that blurs the boundaries between the composed and the improvised parts. Often it functions as a tight rhythm section but most of the time there is no fixed rhythm and the senses of time and space become abstract as on «The Spaces Between». There are no routines in the interplay of this trio, nor any distinction between energy and sensitivity or pause and departure.

Perhaps the symbolic cover, designed by Markus Dorninger, based on the illustrations of noted German biologist-philosopher Ernst Haeckel, may offer a better description of Zoubek music. It shows weird plants, all bloom in fascinating shapes and course and all flow-strive into a higher aim. Maybe in this way Zoubek trio, suggests a new realization of the possibilities of a piano trio in the 21st century. Leaving behind the past, far too common aesthetics of the chamber jazz trios as a prey to the lurking beast.

Eyal Hareveni

Philip Zoubek (p), David Helm (b), Dominik Mahnig (dr)

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