From the liner notes by Stuart Broomer

In the case of Luminous, there is a meeting of musicians of the first order; further, they’re heard here meeting for the first time, an event that cannot even be approximated in a second meeting. Chances are you’re a serious listener in these zones or you wouldn’t be here, something that makes my present pleasant role largely ceremonial. I hope the relationships (and rites) I suggest are resonant and relevant.

Listening to this music, I give in to a certain preoccupation with all the dimensions of time that we might engage in our listening to, our absorption of, our absorption in, this music. If you’ve started to listen to the opening “Slip Away,” you’ll know already that time isn’t just a clock or a philosophical abstraction or even a singular: its (their) presence and complexity are immediately before us, with a slow unfolding of very rapid gestures. Keep listening and you’ll detect other shifts and modulations. The sensitivity to time here even seems to extend to the ascending and descending frequencies (Hz) in runs, bass and piano inscribing contrary tightenings and loosenings in time.

There’s a certain dream-like combination of beauty and complexity in this music. It’s remarkable whenever it’s achieved, and it’s more remarkable when, as here, it’s achieved so quickly and delivered with such brevity.

short video by Paul Borodin:


Pianist Simon Nabatov, bassist Barry Guy and drummer Gerry Hemingwayshare many characteristics. All three serve as outstanding leaders in their own right, but also happen to be superlative improvisers. That latter trait that brings them together for the first time in an egalitarian summit on Luminous. This threesome was one of four new trios convened by Nabatov in 2015 as part of a project ..."still crazy after all these years" to celebrate his quarter century in the German city of Cologne. What ensues is a program of a dozen richly-detailed collective inventions. Recorded over two days in the city's famed LOFT venue, they are crammed with events, constant adjustment and inspired modulation.
"Slip Away" provides just the first example of the intuitive interplay revisited in multiple guises across the 77-minute set. The track begins in nervy, edgy exchanges full of spiky edges derived from Hemingway's stuttery percussive pulse. Guy shifts between upper register plucks, resonant depths and scratchy bowing so deftly that it seems as if there are at least two bassists on the case. Nabatov rides among the resultant currents in a stream of notes with the independence of his hands adding complexity. To offset the intensity, the track ends with a lovely sequence of bass slurs sliding down the fingerboard, cosseted by exquisite piano.

"Basket Glide," with Hemingway's marimba prominent, conjures images of droplets, ripples and slowly flowing rivers, demonstrating the trio's ongoing attention to sound placement, dynamics and variation. Brief consonances, like marimba and piano echoing a phrase, give listeners something to hang onto before paths diverge once more. This cut, like many others, contains a satisfyingly reflective coda that clears the air after the peppery give-and-take. It is the same in "Vacant Prophecy," another crenulated excursion, with Nabatov now extemporizing a dramatic melody, making it a shoo-in for airplay if such a choice were needed.

Elsewhere the trio also explores delicate harmonics and reverberation, as in the fragile, tinkling "Shards Examined" and "Great Disparity"—although the latter morphs from high arco glissandos into bold interchange and breathless dash. "Scroll Back" moves from density to utmost transparency via airy percussion, metal rods vibrating between the bass's strings, and strikes onto the piano's innards. A nod to the conventional piano trio doesn't surface until the final "Unfrozen Sorrow," although even there the energy mounts through fast uncoiling lines and involved attack. This first-time meeting begs for a follow-up.
(John Sharpe)

Luminous Review from Jazz n’ More July 2019

Weit über eine Stunde höllisch gute Improvisationen bringt uns das im Oktober 2015 im Kölner Loft aufgenommene Album der drei grossen Musiker Nabatov, Guy und Hemingway. Es ist das erste Aufeinandertreffen der drei ‘‘Emigranten‘‘ : Nabatov hat russische Wurzeln, eine New Yorker Vergangenheit und feierte mit dem Projekt ein Vierteljahrhundert Köln. Sowohl der Engländer Barry Guy als auch der Amerikaner Gerry Hemingway leben in der Schweiz. Sie sind grosse Nummern im Jazz und in der improvisierten Musik, jeder verfügt über ein gewaltiges Spektrum an Ausdrucksmöglichkeiten. So findet das Treffen unter einem besonders hellen Stern statt und bringt all die Qualitäten ans Ohr, die freie Improvisation bieten kann: ungewohnte, experimentelle Klänge, Dissonanzen und melodiös Vertrautes, aufgelöste Passagen und verdichtete, aus der Zeit gefallene Kadenzen und hammermässigen Groove - und das Ganze praktisch durchwegs dramaturgisch höchst gekonnt hingelegt.
(Stephan Rohrbach)

Im Oktober 2015 kam es im Kölner Loft zu einem Gipfeltreffen des Avantgarde Jazz, das jetzt auf dem litauischen Label NoBusiness erscheint. Für Pianist Simon Nabatov, den gebürtigen Russen, zwischenzeitlichen New Yorker und langjährigen Kölner, war es ein Heimspiel. Zu Besuch kamen der Engländer Barry Guy am Bass und der Amerikaner Gerry Hemingway am Schlagzeug. Das Trio bietet Gruppenimprovisation ohne Netz und Sicherung zwischen Wohlklang und heftigster Dissonanz. Die Begriffe Zeit, Takt und Rhythmus werden hier sehr relativ und sind ebenso Elemente der lmprovisation wie Melodie und Harmonie. Das Spektrum reicht von Nabatovs zartem Streicheln der Tasten in „Forty Days" über Hemingways melodische Marimba zu Nabatovs Klavierperlen in „Basket Glide" bis zu Guys dumpfen Basseskapaden zu Nabatovs Klavierstakkato und Hemingways Schlagzeug-Unwetterin „ Vacant Prophecy" . Die zwölf Titel der CD bieten eine Tour de Force zum Stand der Kunst freier Improvisation. Nichts für Ängstliehe, aber lohnend für Mutige.
(Hans-Bernd Kittlaus)

In October 2015, the Cologne loft hosted a summit meeting of avant-garde jazz that now appears on the Lithuanian label NoBusiness. For pianist Simon Nabatov, the native Russian, meanwhile New Yorker and longtime Cologne, it was a home game. The Englishman Barry Guy on bass and the American Gerry Hemingway on drums came to visit. The trio offers group improvisation without net and fuse between melodiousness and violent dissonance. The terms time, bar and rhythm become very relative here and are as much elements of improvisation as melody and harmony. The spectrum ranges from Nabatov's tender stroking of the keys in "Forty Days" to Hemingway's melodic marimba to Nabatov's piano beads in "Basket Glide", to Guy's muffled bass capitals to Nabatov's piano staccato and Hemingway's drummer-storm "Vacant Prophecy." The twelve tracks on the CD offer a tour de force on the state of the art of free improvisation, nothing for fearfulness, but worthwhile for brave ones.
(Hans-Bernd Kittlaus)


LUMINOUS NoBusiness Records, NBCD112