Who Trio – Less is More (CF 135)
Gerry Hemingway é um extraordinário baterista que tem desenvolvido um imenso trabalho em múltiplas frentes. Desde o quarteto de Anthony Braxton nos anos 80 (uma das suas melhores e mais estáveis formações), passando pelas colaborações com os históricos Anthony Davis, Wadada Leo Smith e George Lewis, o seu trio BassDrumBone (com Ray Anderson e Mark Helias) até aos seus próprios quartetos e quintetos – que através da Clean Feed editaram dois discos (Devils Paradise e The Whimbler) – Hemingway tem mantindo uma intensa actividade sempre em defesa da precisão e criatividade rítmica.
Com Michel Wintsch (no piano) e Bänz Oester (no contrabaixo) o baterista forma este WHO Trio, grupo que vem explorando o conceito de piano trio tradicional desde 1995. Apostando sobretudo na contenção, o grupo evita clichés e cria uma música com um alto teor de sensibilidade. Jogada em espaços de diálogo democrático, as ideias de cada músico vão surgindo, cada um contribuindo com novas soluções, numa originalidade típica da natureza da melhor música improvisada.
O piano de Wintsch não se deixa levar por caminhos óbvios, arrisca diversas vezes experimentar sem medo, mas consegue frequentemente traçar desenhos melódicos seguros. O contrabaixo de Oester vai além de marcação rítmica acertada, intervém regularmente para acrescentar cores com naturalidade. E na bateria Hemingway sabe ser sempre ponderado, ora deixando-se ofuscar para dar espaço aos colegas, ora chamando a atenção através da criação de malhas texturais marcantes.
O título diz tudo. A expressão “less is more” sintetiza a maior parte das ideias aqui exploradas, onde se opta quase sempre por seguir caminhos menos espalhafatosos mas com resultados altamente meritórios. Desenvolvido por um trio de piano que se socorre de estratégias pouco comuns, este é um disco que reflecte uma música aberta, concentrada e de uma beleza rara.
Dennis Gonzalez/Joao Paulo – Scapegrace (CF 144)
Portuguese label Cleanfeed continues its ongoing documentation of Dallas trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez’s musical journey with this stunning album of duets he recorded with pianist-composer Joao Paulo Esteves da Silva during a trip to Portugal in 2007. For these recordings, Gonzalez dispensed with the electronic effects he sometimes employs with Yells At Eels, and the pure sounds of his Bb cornet and C trumpet flow into the harmonically rich, dancing chords of Paulo’s piano to create a music of simple, pastoral beauty. There are moments of tension and dissonance as well, as in the trumpeter’s “Tolleymore,” one of three compositions he contributed to the nine-song set. The sound’s spareness reveals the lyricism of Gonzalez’s lines, and he and the pianist intertwine their extemporizations with exceptional empathy. Overall, the net effect is something akin to a classic ’70s ECM session, but with a wash of Iberian warmth in place of Manfred Eicher’s Teutonic austerity. The title, by the way, is defined as “an incorrigible rascal” in Merriam-Webster — a humorous touch from Joao Paulo.
MICHAEL BLAKE / KRESTEN OSGOOD – Control This (CF 136)
“I am very proud of this album because when I hear the music, I hear how well we know each other”, writes drummer Kresten Osgood in the liners. A beautiful note of friendship to his partner in this duo, saxophonist Michael Blake (here on soprano, alto and tenor), both also members of Blake Tartare and active since many years, respectively, on the Copenhagen and New York scenes, collaborations including names of the calibre of Sam Rivers, Paul Bley and The Lounge Lizards. The extreme enjoyableness of Control This lies in the reciprocal will of constantly paying attention to what the counterpart has to say, finding every time a correct key to unlock the secrets of an ingenuity that’s often the most unadulterated source of expression in an art form that recurrently privileges selfishness over interplay.
In “Top Hat”, for example, Blake interprets a lyrical flow of linear materials ranging from melodically investigative to eloquently rigorous, his phrases breathing through Osgood’s subtly pervading, ever-attentive sinuousness. The latter commands our interest with an expert management of the dynamics, appearing like an extremely conscious percussionist whose lone interest is driving the comrade to reveal the physiology of the instrument while remaining in the realm of a pragmatic equanimity. “Cotton Mouth” begins with the artists treading parallel paths that after a few instants merge into a bundle of tortuous flurries and destroyed-and-reassembled patterns, in which – once more – we welcome a fine balance of rhythmic drive and intertwined precisions.
The record ends in total fun in a ghost track, a comical snapshot of the solid kinship between two musicians who just love playing, especially when they’re together – and not alone.
Sean Conly – Re:Action (CF 124)
Bassist Sean Conly is a Rufus Reid student who’s played with Russ Lossing, Andrew Hill, Ray Barretto and Freddie Hubbard, and seems quite interested in carving out his own niche in the generally crowded post-bop, post-free NYC scene.
His playing seems to take in all these influences, whether in lengthy solos like the expressive feature on “Something I Said?” or his tendency to play with pulse seemingly every measure. It’s the jittery latter quality that shapes Re:Action, at least in its most interesting moments. Along with saxophonists Tony Malaby and Michael Attias, and drummer Pheeroan AkLaff, the bassist pens a number of tunes that wend between impressive textural moments and intense, often melancholy expressionism.
Some tunes, like the tart rearrangement of “Gazzelloni,” with its fierce Malaby solo, tend towards the latter quality. Others, like the rapid riffing “Suburban Angst,” submit wholly to the former quality. And while these performances are satisfying, where the band really stands out is when it integrates the two tendencies fully. They do this compellingly on the loping “Daily Mutation,” the plangent “There’s the Rub” (which sounds to me like the intersection of Julius Hemphill’s “Skin 1” and Oliver Lake’s “Zaki”), and on “Concrete Garden,” whose swirling electronics are layered in what sounds like a Steve Coleman record run through a blender.