"Most spectacularly... any sense of sentimentality is eschewed completely, leaving only a naked emotion to be exploited by Mr. Rabinowitz, which he does in this agile and exhilaratingly alert performance throughout the music."
"This is a gimmick-free recording... The sheer bassoon facility Michael Rabinowitz has achieved in a ‘jazz’ context is remarkable."
"Michael Rabinowitz's improvisations are bold; he glides effortlessly over, in, and around... The album goes a long way in proving that it's not the axe you play, it's the sensibility you bring to it."
"The major barriers to entry for any aspiring jazz bassoonist have to be 1) dexterity and 2) dynamics, and Rabinowitz handles both hurdles like Carl Lewis... No longer a novelty, the bassoon is an instrument for all occasions in the hands and embouchure of Rabinowitz."
"Michael is an undoubted master, making this large and ungainly instrument do exactly what he requires. He has an incredibly fluid approach, and the notes seem to sweep into each other, almost as if they are a living being. He is often at the forefront of the sound, but is also prepared to take a back seat and let the others take the lead when the moment is right."
"In the newly released Uncharted Waters, Michael Rabinowitz’ fourth outing as a leader in over a decade, he again persuasively makes the case for the bassoon in jazz... Rabinowitz is a fine improviser and band leader. Anyone who cares about this instrument and the fruitful edges of modern jazz exploration will want to pick up this fine CD."
"In the pursuit of his lifetime mission, Rabinowitz has succeeded in producing an album of chiaroscuro charm and elegance. Anyone still unsure as to this recording's delights should, to borrow a phrase from George Michael, "listen without prejudice" for they will surely be rewarded."
"As I mentioned before, this instrument has so many sonic textures that it seems a natural conduit for jazz improvisation. Rabinowitz is certainly adept at showcasing the instrument's versatility—there are times when it sounds like a baritone sax, and others when it sounds like a clarinet. Those are both common jazz instruments, right? Beneath that versatility, however, is that distinctive raspy tone that makes you sit up and ask, "Wait, what instrument is this again?" That seems to be his exact mission on this album, since he states right in the liner notes that "this CD continues my mission to showcase the bassoon in a jazz setting featuring the instrument's expressive and improvisational abilities." Great minds, etc."
"Listening to a bassoon sing jazz is a distinctive pleasure. After hearing Bennie Maupin and Yusef Lateef tackle this instrument, I have a certain appreciation and expectation of the bassoon’s power and persuasion. Michael Rabinowitz appreciates and exploits the acoustic characteristics of the bassoon and this makes his “Uncharted Waters” CD a joy to my ears."
"Michael’s grand jazz bassoon playing on this vibrant CD release is joined by Nat Harris on guitar, Ruslan Khain on bass and Vince Ector doing drums, and let me tell you, folks – this SMOKES – it will be a true jazz adventure for listeners not accustomed to this often overlooked instrument"
CT - Michael what do you love about the bassoon? is it the sound, the tone, the range?...tell us about that...
MR - From the time I started playing bassoon at 16 yrs old, I felt the instrument could express a variety of emotions from the comic to the nostalgic. I heard how it was used effectively in movie scores. The range goes below the baritone sax and up into the high range of the tenor sax. The double reed allows it to have a striking staccato and it can jump three octaves easily.
CT - Did you have to invent yourself as a contemporary jazz bassoonist? (in the sense there are very very few jazz bassoonists)
MR - Yes, when I started in the seventies there we doublers that played jazz on bassoon such as Earl Buddel (Australian Jazz Quintet) and Illinois Jacquet but no one that played jazz exclusively on the bassoon. I imitated saxophone, trombone and trumpet players. Eric Dolphy was hero to me because he took the bass clarinet to new places as a jazz instrument. As a beginner there were plenty of doubters but as I improved they started coming around. Now I have built a reputation as one of the few that can play convincing jazz from bebop to free on the instrument.
CT - Where does the bassoon fit in the world of jazz?
MR - There are many groups that are incorporating classical instruments into jazz ensembles. The Charles Mingus Orchestra which I have been part of for over 15 years comes to mind. It incorporates bassoon, french horn and bass clarinet along with saxes and brass. Another group which I recorded with was a mixture of strings and woodwinds that
Chris Potter organized a few years ago. Last year John Clark (jazz french hornist) released a CD called The Odd Couple Quintet with an arrangement of the Mozart French Horn
concertos for rhythm section with french horn and bassoon. So composers are looking for different sonorities and wanting a bassoonist that can improvise.
CT - What is the challenge improvising on the bassoon?
MR - Technically it is more difficult than other instruments and the softness can be easily hidden by louder instruments. I have to mic it when I play and I have an electronic pickup that was made specifically for the bassoon.
CT - Do you play other instruments, like other bassoonists?
MR - Not really, I toy around with the alto sax (because I love Charlie Parker so much) and have played piano my entire life which I use as a composition tool.
CT - Tell us about the group you'll be playing with Nov.12th and how you connected with them...
MR - Last year I was hired to play at Upstairs and a student of mine suggested I hire Eric Harding to play piano and select a bassist and drummer. We rehearsed some new material and the performance went very well. I liked the way they supported me and when I planned to come back this year it was logical that I used the same band.
CT - Which other groups do you play with and where can they be heard?
MR - Most of my work is in the NYC area. I can be heard at the Jazz Standard with the Charles Mingus Orchestra. I am excited about the release of a new CD with compositions
inspired and as tributes to my father Harold and mother Kiki who died over the last year and half. The CD will be called Unchartered Waters and will be on the Cats Paw Record Label.
CT - What repertoire will you be playing Nov. 12th at the Dièse Onze?
MR - As mentioned above I will be playing compositions that will be on the upcoming CD Unchartered Waters and jazz standards.
CT - If you could play with any artist dead or alive, who would that be?
MR - Charlie Parker
Originally posted on JazzBulletin