Outside by Philip Zoubek Trio

2018 WhyPlayJazz (WPJ042), CD + MP3 Album Download

Philip Zoubek Trio »Outside«

Track listing

  1. Scanning  7:34
  2. Rhetorics  5:21
  3. Now Then  2:45
  4. Sketch  4:56
  5. Spaces in Between  5:26
  6. Der König  4:21
  7. Gambit  4:49
  8. The Clearing  4:35
  9. The Long Fade  6:02
  10. Distorted Chants  5:02


Philip Zoubek (piano, compositions), David Helm (bass), Dominik Mahnig (drums)

Production credits

All compositions by Philip Zoubek. Produced by Philip Zoubek for WhyPlayJazz. Recorded December 2017 by Stefan Deistler at Loft, Cologne, Germany. Mixed by Markus Braun. Design by Markus Dorninger, based on illustrations by Ernst Haeckel. Special thanks to Roland Schulz, Markus Braun, Claudia, Hans-Martin Müller, Stefan Deistler, Markus Dorninger, the Zoubek family and my band mates, David and Dominik. For AZ.

There is no boundary between improvisation and composition, between energy and sensibility. Music that relies on curiosity, on high-energy processes filled with a catchy inner logic that is transferred to the listeners as they feel the artists’ urgent enthusiasm.

In jazz music the acoustic piano trio has emancipated itself as a chamber music formation par excellence and has in the last two decades found immense popularity. Given such prominence it has also become inflationary - and reliant on copying originals. Philip Zoubek's trio with double bass player David Helm and percussionist Dominik Mahnig won’t abide by such conventions. Here too Zoubek celebrates his mixture of intensity and control. He was always interested in pianists who combined both: Lennie Tristano, Paul Bley, Masabumi Kikuchi or Glenn Gould. He was always closer to Bach than Liszt. And generally he listened a lot, also to figure out what he didn't like. This is how he found his personal style, which is permeated by Cage, Xenakis and above all Morton Feldman. To Philip Zoubek finely sculpted playing is more important than orchestral rendering.
The subject of his new music is collective. The music emerges in threes. One of its characteristics is how there is no identifiable boundary between improvisation and composition. There is also no border between energy and sensitivity, between pause and departure. None of the ten pieces becomes patter, each has new ideas relating to a great flow that gets by without routine and simple appeals to the audience’s taste, something which genuine artists don't know about anyway.
This music relies on curiosity. It doesn't underestimate the listener. It presents trio music as a highly energetic process, astounds with its catchy inner logic that becomes sensible when artists transmit a felt urgency. This is much more than just a piano trio. This is a collective dawning, artful, as if from a single mould and full of infectious joy.


Tutto ciò si riverbera nei dieci brani che compongono questo Outside, indistintamente a firma del pianista, per quanto scrollarsi di dosso tutta la pesante tradizione, la letteratura, che una formula trafficata come il piano trio si porta appresso sia impresa da far tremare i polsi a chiunque. Qui la volontà di battere itinerari personali è in ogni caso largamente avvertibile, con risultati anche egregi.

Shadowing each other’s every movement Helm and Mahnig make the perfect back-up to Zoubek’s compositional and keyboard flights.

Die drei blieben in ihren Interpretationen harmonisch nah an den Kompositionen und konzentrierten ihre Gruppen- und Solo-Improvisationen auf Melodie und Rhythmus mit nahtlosen Übergängen zwischen Komposition und Improvisation. [...] Dieses Trio bietet eher Modern Jazz als Avantgarde und schreckt erfreulicherweise nicht vor melodischer Schönheit zurück.

Zoubek states briefly the restless themes but then the whole trio articulates it, clashes with its fragments and together abstracts the theme in a manner that blurs the boundaries between the composed and the improvised parts. [...] Maybe in this way Zoubek trio, suggests a new realization of the possibilities of a piano trio in the 21st century. Leaving behind the past, far too common aesthetics of the chamber jazz trios as a prey to the lurking beast.

Die meisten Stücke sind permanente Formwandler, ein Kaleidoskop hüpfender Melodien und subtiler Rhythmus- und Stilveränderungen, strukturell zusammengehalten und kontrolliert durch den phänomenalen Sinn für Tempo, den die drei Musiker hören lassen.
Eine formatbildende, außergewöhnliche Einspielung: Für mich das Album des Jahres!

Achim Doppler, CONCERTO

Immer wenn man meint, den Sound „einordnen“ zu können, wird man eines Besseren belehrt, weil das Philip Zoubek Trio aus dem gesamten Fundus der Piano-Trio-Tradition schöpft.

Rich, colorful, expressive and enchanting musical language is created by using synthesis of experimental and traditional musical decisions, sound experiments, special effects, expansion of instruments technical abilities, open form and spontaneous free improvisation. All these elements make an effort to creation of remarkable, expressive and great sound of this album.

Philip Zoubek Trio‘s newest album, Outside, is a magnificent album of modern, at times avant-garde jazz. Each composition is interesting in its own right and played to near perfection by the three talented musicians on record.

Zoubek hat das Rad auf musikalische Weise neu erfunden – auch dort ist in der Bewegung alles mal oben, unten, vorn oder hinten.

Ein Kollektiv im besten Sinne des Wortes, alle 3 sind wunderbarere Musiker, mit kluger und zupackender Musik.
Das beste Klaviertrio seit langer Zeit !

Also available

Philip Zoubek Trio
(2022, Vinyl LP)
Philip Zoubek Trio
(2022, CD)
Philip Zoubek Trio
(2020, CD)