RT 9330 (2006)

Matthias Schubert Quartet

Matthias Schubert: tenor sax
Claudio Puntin: clarinet
Carl Ludwig Hübsch: tuba
Tom Rainey: drums

1. Plus Minus [5:11]
2. Soldaten [12:50]
3. Upgradeing [8:05]
4. Statik und Penetranz [11:06]
5. Shreeveport Stomp [3:13]
6. Don Cordolone [8:48]
7. Trappola [13:30]
8. Brettspiel [4:53]

All compositions Matthias Schubert, except
Shreeveport Stomp, by Jelly Roll Morton

Recorded May 14-28,2003



visit Matthias Schubert webpage
at Jazz Pages


Troy Collins - All About Jazz

In the heady climate of the 1970s loft jazz era, the fertile aesthetic common ground shared by Dixieland and free jazz was well documented by such notable innovators as Henry Threadgill, Anthony Braxton, Muhal Richard Abrams and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. German tenor saxophonist Matthias Schubert continues this exploration on Trappola.

Schubert and the other members of his group—clarinetist Claudio Puntin, tuba player Carl Ludwig Hubsch and drummer Tom Rainey—share common histories, having often played together in various combinations over the past decade. Blending the raw communal expressionism of free jazz with the joyous punch of early Dixieland and European marching band music, they make a riotous postmodern noise, laced with a wicked sense of humor.

The quartet defies standard rules of traditional accompaniment; Hubsch offers support without being fully relegated to the role of bass player. Rainey similarly navigates his trap set, injecting melodic contours and colorful textures while he maintains the pulse. Schubert and Puntin lock horns, weaving endless variations on angular themes full of intertwining melodic fragments as they negotiate Rainey's thorny palpitations with tricky counterpoint and witty rejoinders.

Toying with stop-start rhythms (”Plus Minus”), austere chamber dynamics (”Statik and Penetranz”) and riotous, circus-like fanfares (”Upgradeing”), the quartet blends a variety of approaches. “Soldaten” encapsulates the furthest reaches of the group's potential, vacillating between turbulent, Braxtonian march rhythms and spectral explorations that border on silence.

Collective improvisation alternates with expansive solo statements on Trappola. The leader's intervallic tenor is brawny and propulsive on “Soldaten” and the lumbering funk of the title track, which features Rainey throttling his kit with the same focused intensity that he delivers when accompanying Tim Berne. Rainey's solo statements and supportive fills blend seamlessly with his open-ended approach, sounding occasionally like one endlessly nuanced, driving improvisation. Hubsch contributes mesmerizing multiphonic solos, most notably on “Statik and Penetranz,” while Puntin unveils a fertile blend of Old World lyricism and klezmer-inflected sarcasm on “Don Cordolone.”

A lively rendition of Jelly Roll Morton's “Shreeveport Stomp” makes an appropriate cover choice, complementing the album's ancient-to-the-future aesthetic. Blending freewheeling structures, fervent improvisation and ironic humor with Old World traditions, Schubert and company lend a new wrinkle to the tried and true. Historical revisionism never sounded so good.

all about jazz


Massimo Ricci - Touching Extremes

“Trappola” is a record that mixes, elaborates and reinvents elements from the past while keeping an inquisitive eye on the present. It features a collection of excellent tracks - including a Jerry Roll Morton cover - that make good use of the technical skills of the involved musicians but nevertheless sounds captivating and fresh to the ears. The lineup disfigures the traditional roles of a jazz quartet, in that a properly delineated “rhythm section” is nowhere to be found; the players like to exchange figurations, ruminations and harmonic heaps without flinching, lip-reading their reciprocal “regular” parts to create something that at one and the same time sounds unheard before and traditionally rooted. Trying to nail comparisons in this tasty morsel soon becomes a sterile practice of “what does it remind you of” useless exercises: linking destructured ragtime, quasi-experimental Dixieland and Kurt Weill-meets-Eric Dolphy semi-dissonant (but totally digestible) counterpoints is not an easy task, yet these artists pass the test with flying colours. We’re hooked by entangling crosses of erratic trajectories, but also suddenly incinerated by improbable darts of clarinet-cum-tuba peripherical aggregations which, in their difficulty, wink to a kind of advanced chamber music. A "marching band spirit" is perennially lurking behind, even if poisoned by copious doses of tangential simultaneousness generating synchronized conflicts and unpredictable jams a go-go. All in all, "Trappola" is just another example of album that might not have you shouting at some sort of miracle, but works perfectly in each of its single components and yields large quantities of aural gratification, especially for lovers of tightly arranged, neatly executed music.


Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

In October of 2005 a fine brass/sax trio played our store featuring Wolter Weirbos on trombone (from ICP), Ludwig Hubsch (the leader) on tuba and Matthias Schubert on tenor sax. I had not heard of Hubsch or Schubert at this point, but the trio was great nonetheless. Turns out that Matthias has a duo disc out with Gunter Hampel and can be
heard on the recent release by Graham Collier, 'Hoarded Dreams' on Cuneiform that was recorded in 1983. Clarinetist, Claudio Puntin has solo discs out and has worked with Fred Frith and Chris Cutler in the Science Group, as well as being a member of the Syntopia Quartet with Klaus Kugel. Tom Rainey remains one of the best drummers around here and is well known for his work with Tim Berne, Tony Malaby and Mark Helias.

Matthias Schubert wrote all but one of the pieces on this great disc, with a cover of
"Shreeveport Stomp" by Jelly Roll Morton. Since there is no bassist, you would think that Mr. Hubsch would take the bass role, but it is not that simple. "Plus Minus" is one of those odd start and stop pieces. The entire center section is a well-written trio for tenor, clarinet and tuba, rather Braxtonian in sound. "Soladaten" is long and provocative yet restrained and sounds more like modern classical than modern jazz. Tom Rainey holds it down from the center as the three horns swirl tightly around him, playing their intricate arrangements with occasional solos."Upgrading" starts very slow and spaciously and gradually gets faster and faster, nearly spinning out of control, eventually turning onto a Dixieland workout near the end!?! "Statik und Penetranz" is sparse while still having a number of twisted solos that occur in odd places. Since this disc is filled a variety of unexpected twists and turns, I am not too surprised to hear the Jelly Roll Morton piece, since it does somehow fit and a bit of humor to the more dry moments. The title piece is the longest one here and has some difficult arrangements to work through, it consistently shifts through a variety
of sections. As the tuba and drums play more of rhythm section thing, strong solos from the tenor and clarinet add some excitement. "Brettspiel" brings things to a perfect close with some great extended sounds from the horns that are still tight and even silly in places. "Trappola" is a great disc that doesn't quite sound like anything else I've heard in a while.


Glenn Astarita - All About Jazz

This engaging modern jazz recording presents something of a paradox. With sinewy unison lines and crash/burn dialogues, tenor saxophonist Matthias Schubert integrates classic New Orleans jazz in the quartet’s broader overall canvas. Everyone’s favorite session drummer, Tom Rainey, drives the ensemble with darting accents and fluently rendered beats. A down-home touch underscores the production, largely due to tuba player Carl Ludwig Hubsch’s buoyant bottom-end, as he provides a foundation for Schubert and clarinetist Claudio Puntin. The group cover Jelly Roll Morton’s “Shreveport Stomp” with vibrant aplomb, and on other tracks meld fierce dialogues with unusual linear progressions and odd-metered rhythm patterns. Nonetheless, it’s a happening endeavor, where jazz's old school shares equal footing with its new outside edges.

all about jazz


Ken Waxman - Jazzword

Equally capable of producing rondo coloration and careful waltz time, the band on Trappola gets more mileage from the ability of the four to blend intimations of earlier forms such as circus parade music and Ragtime to antiphonal dissonance. “Upgradeing [sic]”, for instance begins as a near-baroque, adagio piece with rolling clarinet lines on top of tuba pedal point, then picks up speed to andante as Rainey paradiddles and ruffs and Puntin produces a siren-like glissando. Heading into a simple four-to-the-bar swing then speedy Ragtime, the conclusion owes as much to the Woody Woodpecker theme as anything else.

Compositions like “Statik und Penetranz” which make much of the contrast between brass mellowness and wheezing clarinet trills also suggest stripped down versions of the Dutch little Big bands like the ICP Orchestra and the Willem Breuker Kollektief (WBK). When the polyphonic interplay between the horns, plus Schubert’s yakity-sax lines is more apparent, the resemblance is even stronger. However when the tenor saxophonist blows colored air through his horn and Hübsch breaks tones into their partials with valve tightening, the quartet proves that it too can be as serious as the ICP and WBK in their less-jokey moments.

At points as well, the four also manage to simultaneously refer to the freeform dance rhythms of cabalettas and the repetitious layering of Anthony Braxton’s Ghost Trance Music, although the later excessive formalism is missing.

More to the point the Schubert Quartet is defined by a composition like the 13½- minute title track which shakes and rattles with Dixieland-style drumming, European peasant dance rhythms and cross-fading tremolos from the horns. Before the tune ends in a burst of tutti polyphony, the pitchsliding has encompassed braying capillary pedal point from the tubaist, wiggling clarinet bites and slap tongue tenor saxophone.

(...) Trappola maintains its integrity while it welcomes different ways of approaching the music.