Claus Raible – Fugitive Figures (2023)

Claus Raible - Fugitive Figures (2023)
Artist: Claus Raible
Album: Fugitive Figures
Label: Alessa Records
Year Of Release: 2023
Format: FLAC (tracks)
01. What Love Exotique
02. Fugitive Figures
03. Reminiscence
04. Accelerando in Blue
05. Villa Oriental
06. The Aztecs
07. Not Yet
08. Blamelessly
09. Close Hauled
10. “C” Jump
11. Rai Blue


Exceptional pianist Claus Raible for the first time exclusively with his own compositions.
Claus Raible’s music grabs you, connects logic and passion, speaks to all your senses and turns even the most critical listener into a sound connoisseur.
To commit yourself to a certain style and, which is rare today, to stick to it consistently, is a very special challenge, because the sounding result is measured against large sample images, the classics of the genre. The pianist has to be able to do far more than technically brilliant and swing, he has to show outstanding creativity. As a pianist and composer, Raible sounds like he was personally apprenticed to Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Elmo Hope or Herbie Nichols. In fact, he had the finishing touches put on by Barry Harris, a pianist of this circle.

The thoroughbred musician has forged his own form of expression with stylistic elements of these kindred spirits, with which he continues their legacy like no other. Only someone who is familiar with every nuance of an idiom, like a native speaker, can fully express every thought and every feeling in it. Claus Raible plays bebop with vigor and enthusiasm, wit and dignity, authority and authenticity, genuine, stirring, moving, lively and invigorating.
While the pianist had to scale back his activities in times of lockdown, the composer Raible had many hours to let himself be kissed by the muse, great moments, mind you, in which motifs and fragments that had been haunting him for a long time formed into songs.

With “Fugitive Figures” Claus Raible presents for the first time an album on which he only plays his own compositions: Each of the eleven leading originals is a magnificent piece of creativity and groove.
Take the harmonies, for example: In “What Love Exotique” Raible boldly reharmonizes the changes to “What Is This Thing Called Love”, which here takes a mad trip through exotic realms as a Latin piece à la Caravan. Raible uses a lot of dissonant chords here, which, however, results in a harmonious progression because there is a meaningful bass progression and voice leading in the right hand. There are allusions in many pieces, less recognizable everyday quotations than hidden Easter eggs, which will delight the connoisseur of jazz history like a detective game.
Kudos to Raible’s ability to play with listener expectations. In “Fugitive Figures” he seems at first to quote well-known motifs such as Monk’s “Little Rootie Tootie”, but only in abbreviated form and alienated. In the solos, the piece only appears to be blues. In reality, the supposed blues choruses in the middle always rise by a minor third.
His art of using “outrageous” voicings makes one sit up and take notice: In “Blamelessly”, a piece that paraphrases the standard “Don’t Blame Me” into a strange sound structure, bells seem to ring out again and again in ghostly distortion in the middle section.
In previous productions, Claus Raible often hired famous drummers such as Ed Thigpen, Ben Dixon and Alvin Queen. But since there was always a great need to work with a first-class drummer on site, it was a stroke of luck that he met the dynamic, precise and sensitive drummer Xaver Hellmeier. With the exceptional bassist Giorgos Antoniou, with whom Raible has been connected almost mind-reading for almost 20 years, and Hellmeier, who has become a congenial playmate for Raible with his playing trained on greats like Max Roach, Kenny Clarke and Art Taylor, a group emerged in which everyone speaks the same musical language.
The consummate musicality displayed by the trio is based on the fact that each member not only develops their personal abilities, but is also part of a living, productive musical organism that offers the listener endless joy.

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