On one of my visits to St. Louis for a scientific meeting we spent an evening out listening to jazz. Along with me was an old friend and his wife. She is a professor of music who I affectionately call Dr. Rubato. The nickname came out of this evening thirtysomething years ago. One of my favorite jazz songs is “St. James Infirmary Blues”. If the band is taking requests, I always ask for it. On this night we were treated to a fantastic rendition. The stand-up bass player was the one who really stood out. In my amateurish way I said I really enjoyed the way he altered the rhythm during his solo. My learned musical friend said that was called tempo rubato. She explained to me it is a section of music where the soloist has the freedom to create their own tempo; faster, slower or both. As I’ve mentioned there are words and phrases which just feel good while I pronounce them. Tempo rubato allowed me to elongate the vowels, roll the r, separate the syllables. Performing my own linguistic version of the term. Independent perfumer Shawn Maher wanted to make a perfume based on this. Maher Olfactive Tempo Rubato is the result.
Mr. Maher lives in St. Louis which gives my opening story a bit of resonance to the perfume he created. He was also jazz inspired but his is the vocals of Billie Holiday as he relates in the accompanying Scent Notes blog post. Her vocal range allowed her to really employ tempo rubato in a singular way. He wanted to use the multi-faceted ingredient of orris butter to fashion a perfume of varying moods. He seems to be having a lot of fun playing with different shadings of his ingredients. Like an improvisational perfumer performing to his own tempo.
He begins with his main theme a floral accord built upon the orris butter. If you read the blog post, you will see all the nuance he builds into this. For me it is primarily the orris and narcissus which take the lead. There are a lot of other floral ingredients, but it is galbanum which provides a solid green backbeat for the orris and narcissus to improvise against. Jasmine adds a bass line to the green floral accord. Out of this a fabulously odd apricot comes out in a solo which captures the attention of the rest of the combo. A leather accord picks up the tune while stretching the beat out just a little. This is another accord built upon many precise pieces as Mr. Maher moves up and down his perfume keyboard finding just the right note. As it fully forms you have the orris-narcissus-galbanum accord finding harmony with the leather accord. Both play together until it all fades away.
Tempo Rubato has 16-18 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
I’ve glossed over a lot of the work Mr. Maher put into his accords. For those who are interested in the way perfume accords are built I refer you again to the blog post. One of the reasons I didn’t get lost in all of that is because the perfume is like listening to my favorite jazz. I just want to sit back and let it wash pleasantly over me. Although I have given this perfume my own name because Dr. Rubato has already taken the one on the bottle. I call it “The Orris Butter Blues”.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Maher Olfactive.