By Ken Micallef | Published August 2018
David Helbock’s 18 albums as a leader position the 34-year-old pianist as a creative thinker unafraid to put his stamp on the works of jazz masters past, while furthering his own distinctive catalog. The Austrian’s Tour D’Horizon exemplifies his approach, a covers album wherein the pianist pays tribute to his influences.
It might be easy to dismiss the album purely for its well-worn material: Joe Zawinul’s “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” Paul Desmond’s “Take Five,” Duke Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood.” But the trio upends the “less is more” attitude by cleverly rearranging each composition with a minimalist slant that plays to the group’s strengths.
The music of Joaquin Rodrigo via Miles Davis appears in the trio’s version of “Concierto De Aranjuez (Adagio),” given a lush, if Spartan, treatment of brushed harpsichord, plucked piano strings, low-note grumbles and raspy flute. But that only serves as introduction to Chick Corea’s “Spain,” its trademark melody performed by sympathetic piano and soprano saxophone, then upended with beatbox flute, Steve Reichian piano rhythms and, of course, the carnival-like bridge. Tour D’Horizon surprises at every turn, a measured feast for the senses.
Tour D’Horizon: 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. (50:08)
Personnel: David Helbock, piano, electronics, percussion; Andreas Broger, saxophones, clarinets, reed instruments; Johannes Bär, tuba, trumpet, brass instruments.