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Simon Nabatov

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Simon Nabatov
Nabatov in 2010
Nabatov in 2010
Background information
Born (1959-01-11) 11 January 1959 (age 65)
Moscow, Russia
Occupation(s)Musician, composer

Simon Nabatov (born 11 January 1959) is a Russian-American jazz pianist.

Early life[edit]

Nabatov was born in Moscow on 11 January 1959.[1] His parents were Leon, a professional pianist and choir conductor who was a native of Belarus, and Regina.[2] Nabatov began playing the piano at the age of three and his first composition was at six.[1]

He attended a Duke Ellington concert in Moscow in 1971 and his determination to become a jazz musician was reinforced a year later at a Thad Jones–Mel Lewis Orchestra performance.[2] By the age of 17 he was playing bebop with other musicians in Moscow.[2] His formal education in music was at the Central School of Music and then the Moscow Conservatory.[3]

Nabatov and his parents were permitted to leave the Soviet Union in 1979.[2] This was ostensibly to join family members in Israel, but the Nabatovs instead flew to Italy and applied for visas to enter the United States.[2] While waiting for a visa, Nabatov gained experience by becoming the house pianist at the Mississippi Jazz Club in Rome and was helped and encouraged by clarinettist Tony Scott.[2] The family eventually reached the United States and settled in LeFrak City in Queens, New York City.[2]

Later life and career[edit]

Nabatov attended the Juilliard School from 1980 to 1984.[1] In 1981, he accompanied avant-garde dancer Kazuo Ohno in performances in New York.[4] In 1984, the magazine Keyboard named him Best Pianist.[3] After graduating, "he played chamber music and accompanied choirs and former Soviet singing stars touring the growing circuit of Russian communities in the United States."[2] He became an American citizen in 1986.[1] That year, he recorded a trio album, Circle the Line, with bassist Ed Schuller and drummer Paul Motian.[3] Often travelling to Europe, he was a member of bands led by Ray Anderson, Arthur Blythe, Steve Lacy and Perry Robinson, and played with the NDR Hamburg radio big band.[2] Nabatov also toured Germany with Matthias Schubert, "with the drummer Ernst Bier, and with a tap-dance group".[1] In 1989, he and his German partner settled in Cologne.[2]

Nabatov made his name with a series of inventive trio albums with Mark Helias and Tom Rainey; he also often works with the trombonist Nils Wogram in duet or in larger ensembles. His most important work so far, however, has been a series of albums on Leo devoted to jazz tone-poem responses to Russian authors. Nature Morte is based on a poem by Joseph Brodsky; The Master and Margarita is a suite inspired by the novel of the same name by Mikhail Bulgakov;[2] and A Few Incidences contains octet settings of the enigmatic texts of the poet Daniil Kharms. Crucial to the two vocal discs have been the contributions of British singer Phil Minton.

Nabatov has taught at several institutions, including the Folkwang Hochschule in Essen (1989–91), the International Jazz and Rock Academy in Remscheid (1991–93),[1] and the Musikhochschule Luzern.[3]


As leader/co-leader[edit]

Year recorded Title Label Personnel/Notes
1989? Solo–Duo–Trio–Quartet 2nd Floor With Michael Moore, Frank Gratkowski, Nils Wogram (trombone), Phil Minton (vocals)
1986 Circle the Line GM With Ed Schuller (bass), Paul Motian (drums), Arto Tuncboyaci (percussion)
1989? Inside, Looking Out Tutu Quartet with Ed Schuller (bass), John Betsch (drums), Arto Tuncboyaci (percussion)
1988 Locomotion ASP Solo piano
1989? Six by Two Terrace Duo with Ronan Guilfoyle (bass guitar)
1990 For All the Marbles ASP Trio, with Mark Helias (bass), Barry Altschul (drums)
1990 Dancing on the Edge Klavins Solo piano
1993 Tough Customer Enja Trio, with Mark Helias (bass), Tom Rainey (drums)
1994 Shall We Dance? 2nd Floor Solo piano
1996 Swing Kings ACT Trio with Wolfgang Schlüter (vibraphone), Charly Antolini (drums); in concert
1999 Sneak Preview hatOLOGY Trio, with Mark Helias (bass), Tom Rainey (drums)
1999 The Master and Margarita Leo Quintet, with Herb Robertson (trumpet), Mark Feldman (violin), Mark Helias (bass), Tom Rainey (drums)
1999 Nature Morte Leo Quartet, with Nils Wogram (trombone), Frank Gratkowski (clarinet, alto sax, bass clarinet, flute), Phil Minton (vocals)
2000? As We Don't Know It Kennex Duo, with Nils Wogram (trombone)
2000 Starting a Story ACT Duo, with Nils Wogram (trombone)
2000 Perpetuum Immobile Leo Solo piano
2000 Three Stories, One End ACT Trio, with Drew Gress (bass), Tom Rainey (drums)
2001 Chat Room Leo Duo, with Han Bennink (drums)
2003 Autumn Music Leo Trio, with Ernst Reijseger (cello), Michael Vatcher (drums); in concert
2004 A Few Incidences Leo Octet, with Nils Wogram (trombone), Frank Gratkowski (clarinet, alto sax, bass clarinet, flute), Ernst Reijseger (cello), Matt Penman (bass), Michael Sarin (drums), Cor Fuhler (electronics, keyolin), Phil Minton (vocals)
2005 Around Brazil ACT Solo piano
2005 Steady Now Leo Duo, with Tom Rainey (drums)
2005? The Move BTLCHR Duo, with Nils Wogram (trombone)
2006? A Felicidade Plushmusic.tv Solo piano
2006 Jazz Limbo Leo Duo, with Nils Wogram (trombone)
2006 Meeting Point Audioguy Duo, with Park Je-Chun (drums); in concert
2007? Leo Records 25th Anniversary Leo Album shared with other musicians
2007 Spinning Songs of Herbie Nichols Leo Solo piano; in concert; released 2012
2009? Nicht ohne Robert JazzHousMusik Quartet, with Rudi Mahall, Robert Landfermann (bass), Christian Lillinger
2010? Roundup Leo Quintet, with Nils Wogram (trombone), Matthias Schubert (sax), Ernst Reijseger (cello), Tom Rainey (drums)
2010? Concert "Live" à Bordeaux Ouhman Duo, with Touria Hadraoui (vocals); in concert
2010? Deployment Leo Trio, with Frank Gratkowski (alto sax, clarinet), Marcus Schmickler (computer)
2011? Moods and Modes NWOG Duo, with Nils Wogram (trombone)
2011? Square Down Leo Trio, with Ernst Reijseger (cello), Matthias Schubert (tenor sax)
2012? Nawora Leo Trio, with Nils Wogram (trombone), Tom Rainey (drums)
2012 21-9-12 Leo Trio, with Oğuz Büyükberber (clarinet), Gerry Hemingway (drums); in concert
2013? Descriptions Leo Duo, with Matthias Schubert (sax); in concert
1995–2013 Monk 'n' More Leo Solo piano, electronics; released 2016
2014? Encounters Leo Trio, with Luc Houtkamp (sax), Martin Blume (drums)
2010–14 Lubatov Leo Duo, with Gareth Lubbe (vocals)
2014 Projections Clean Feed Duo, with Mark Dresser (bass); in concert
2015? Leo Records, 35th Anniversary, Moscow Leo Quartet, with Frank Gratkowski and Alexey Kruglov (sax), Oleg Yudanov (drums)
2015? Equal Poise Leo Trio, with Mark Dresser (bass), Dominik Mahnig (drums); in concert
2016? Picking Order Leo Trio, with Stefan Schoenegg, Dominik Mahnig (drums)
2016? Wobbly Strata Trytone Duo, with Oğuz Büyükberber (clarinet)
2017? Mirthful Myths Leo Duo, with Frank Gratkowski
2017? Free Reservoir Leo Trio, with Max Johnson (bass), Michael Sarin (drums)
2017 Tunes I Still Play Solo piano; in concert
2017 Not Seeing Is a Flower Leo Quartet, with Akira Sakata (alto sax, clarinet, vocals, percussion), Takashi Seo (bass), Darren Moore (drums, percussion); in concert

As sideman[edit]

With Perry Robinson

  • Nightmare Island Live at the Leverkusener Jazztage (West Wind, 1989)
  • Call to the Stars (West Wind, 1990)
  • Angelology (Phonector, 2006)

With Nils Wogram

  • Round Trip (Enja, 1996)
  • Speed Life (Enja, 1998)
  • Odd and Awkward (Enja, 2001)
  • Construction Field (Altrisuoni, 2003)
  • The Move (Between the Lines, 2005)
  • Portrait of a Band (Enja, 2007)
  • Moods & Modes (Nwog, 2010)

With others


  1. ^ a b c d e f Gammel, Marcus. "Nabatov, Simon". Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 12 February 2018 – via Oxford Music Online.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Zwerin, Mike (10 November 1999). "A Jazz Man Comes of Age". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d Dillon, Charlotte. "Simon Nabatov". allmusic.com. Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  4. ^ Dunning, Jennifer (31 July 1981). "The Dance: Kazuo Ohno". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  5. ^ Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (1992). The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, LP & Cassette (1st ed.). Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-015364-4.
  6. ^ Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian (2008). The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (9th ed.). Penguin. ISBN 978-0-141-03401-0.
  7. ^ "Discography". nabatov.co. Retrieved 12 February 2018.