JazzWrap review by Stephan Moore

Red Trio - Stem Red Trio (CF 249)
Like the old saying goes, “wine gets better with age,” so too does the fantastic Portuguese group, Red Trio.

A phenomenal yet minimal self-titled debut that features a wide array of improvised occurrences with stellar insights in composition went further with the follow up, Empire. Empire featured British saxophonist, John Butcher as the interpretive foil to the trio’s experimental exploits. This session seemed to awaken a challenging spirit within the band (especially on the title track). Now that inquisitive spirit has collided with the free form agility of one of my recent favourite trumpeters, Nate Wooley for the superb, Stem.

This quartet came together only a few months ago as a live collaboration but you can feel that Red Trio quickly developed a unique chemistry that makes this session even more personal and entertaining than Empire. The outstanding opener, “Flapping Flight” features jagged edges and improvised chords by the trio intersecting with short delicate notes by Wooley that rise and fall with romantic flavour. The piece expands as it moves into it’s middle movements and creates similar exchanges to that shared on the trio’s work with Butcher. Wooley and Pinheiro share a rolling battle of notes towards the end that is both captivating as it is complex.

Pinheiro’s playing is at times very straight while delightful chaos occurs around him. “Ellipse” is one of those moments. Pinheiro’s performance is almost Jarrett-esque but it is punctuated by canon of experimentalism on display by the rest of the group. Ferrandini’s drums put on a quiet Billy Higgins type display. Rhyming when necessary and floating freely when called upon. Wooley goes from a stoic and melodic tone to dark quiet breathy exchanges with the trio almost silent adding a haunting yet organic nature to piece that is revelatory.

“Weight Slice” has a frenzied pace that holds the listener in place while short burst of notes almost coalesce into one pattern but then brilliantly explode in the opposite direction. Wooley has individual dialogues with the trio throughout this piece. “Weight Slice” is probably the best example of the camaraderie this group has developed in such a short amount of time. The quiet almost ethereal departure of “Tides” is remincesent of Red Trio’s debut. A spacious conclusion with slow droning effects and low tones that make you stop and investigate each note.

Stem is the best work to date by Red Trio and the addition of new musicians over the last two outings has only made this group better, inventive and fresh – like aged wine. Stem is one of those albums that will last with you all year long. Highly Recommended.
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