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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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DAVID HELBOCK TRIO

Into The Mystic

David Helbock - Piano

Raphael Preuschl - Bass ukelele

Reinhold Schmölzer - Drums

ACT 9833-2

 

 

 

 

 

1. Beethoven No.7, 2nd Movement

2. The Soul

3. Spiritual Monk

4. Exodus To Star Wars I

5. Louverture

6. Eros

7. Exodus To Star Wars II

8. Mother Earth

9. Into The Mystic

10. Exodus To Star Wars III

11. A Child Is Born

12. Masks

13. Star War Theme

14. The World Needs More Heroes

 

This is David Helbock's first album for ACT and on this showing it's a marriage made in heaven. Of course, the 32 year old Austrian pianist and composer is not exactly new on the scene. His initial album (self released) came out as long ago as 1998 and since then he has featured on fourteen other discs prior to this one. He's clearly someone who relishes a challenge. In April 2010, he released his so-called Personal Realbook which contained a fresh composition for each day of the entire year! In the first instance studying classical piano, this prize winning talent has toured extensively. He is joined here by two of his compatriots. Unusually, Raphael Preuschl plays a bass ukelele on the disc. The drummer Reinhold Schmölzer has written for a big band, as well as for smaller groups and played in both.

Helbock tells us in the liner notes that, while music can be understood rationally and appreciated emotionally, his aim is to explore how it might be experienced mystically. Hence the album's title, I guess. There's an interesting facet of the CD, which is the way the theme from the film Star Wars keeps recurring, once as a separate treatment and three times linked with the theme from an earlier film, Exodus. For me, the initial version is the best. On Exodus To Star Wars III, his third bite at that particular cherry, he sounds at one point as if he's about to burst into the main theme from Cinema Paradiso instead. This slight idiosyncracy in his choice of material doesn't detract from the overall impact of his music. The Soul, for example, a Helbock original inspired by Hafez, the Persian Sufi poet of the 14th century, has both vigour and momentum whilst producing contrasting moments of stillness and storm. The approach reminded me of the great Esbjörn Svensson Trio.Spiritual Monk (a tribute to Thelonious?) again combines thoughtfulness with attack. Helbock's compositional skills continue to impress on Eros and Masks. Eros is sensitive and, at times, intense. Masks has an exceptional solo from Preuschl who provides intelligent support at all times. There's more than a hint of Keith Jarrett from Helbock on this one.

The track I enjoyed most was A Child Is Born. Helbock's delicate yet forceful take on this lovely Thad Jones theme is a tour de force, although with moments that were strangely ominous. Those who relish crossover may enjoy Beethoven's Seventh, Second Movement. I've mentioned the distinctive contribution made by Raphael Preuschl on bass ukelele but Reinhold Schmölzer on drums deserves credit for the power (and subtlety) of his playing also. Try Mother Earth or The World Needs More Heroes to sample his versatility.

In conclusion, David Helbock is a quirky and orginal musician who uses all the piano and summons up every mood. His eclecticism adds to the interest for the listener. With the Star Wars emphasis on this disc in mind, I'll surrender to the obvious and say that the Force is clearly with him and his trio!

James Poore



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