Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sabin Todorov Trio - 08/11/2006@Jazz Station, Brussels

Sabin Todorov - p
Sal La Rocca - b
Lionel Beuvens - d

The Jazz Station, a disused train station, is, interior and exterior design-wise, the coolest jazz club around: wavy wooden ceiling, green neon lights criss-crossing under the stage, designer plastic chairs, black-and-white tiled toilets. It looks a lot less 80s than it sounds. There's even a floor-to-ceiling window that looks out onto the street. Granted, it's not as spectacular a view as the one from the Jazz At Lincoln Center building, but it's a nice touch.

I've unfortunately lost my notes from the concert, so here are some general impressions. Sabin Todorov is from Bulgaria, but has been living in Belgium for a number of years. He's kind of our Bojan Z. His music draws on Bulgarian and jazz roots, convincingly making the case for jazz as a way of treating folkloric material, whether it's the blues or, ummm... whatever it is they call it in Bulgaria. It also makes the music very accessible and concrete: you can directly hear the living, the dancing, the singing being referred to.

Melodies are often based upon traditional songs and dances which bear a resemblance to other music from the Balkans. The driving, interlocking rhythms create polyrhythms that, interestingly, don't sound African or "Latin" at all, another blow to the "Europe ain't got rhythm" theories.

Sabin is such an unassuming person that it's easy to underestimate him. But as he showed decisively when he opened the second set with a solo piece, he's a superb pianist. Every time I see him, I am mystified that this long-standing trio has yet to put out an official release.