Tony Malaby – Novela (CF 232)
Novela by Tony Malaby is a real treat. It tantalizes the senses with its complex yet accessible horn arrangements, burns with a restrained energy that propels the soloists and builds so imperceptibly that by time we are half way into the first piece, “Floating Head,” and the piano’s slightly disjointed but flowing phrases come to the fore, we are ready for a slight breather. The bass clarinet phrases with the horn and drum hits below the soloing trumpet is fantastic — it is easy to be happily lost in the melodies, counter melodies, individual and ensemble improvisations.
The arrangement of the second tune, “Floral and Herbaceous,” with its slow moving melody is a fraught affair, collapsing in the middle into just a solitary voice. Then, slowly, evocatively, the tune rises again from its own ashes. The playing and the arangements are inspired and inspiring, covering the range from bouts of frenetic dissonance to soaring climaxes.
The material comes from Malaby’s discography, recorded in different group settings over the years. This arrangements on Novela were done by pianist Kris Davis and she is co-credited as such on the album. The group is an octet, with Malaby on soprano and tenor saxophones, Michael Attias on alto, Andrew Hadro on baritone, Joachim Badenhorst playing bass clarinet, Ralph Alessi on trumpet, Ben Gerstein playing trombone, Kris Davis on piano and John Hollenbeck playing drums.
The extensive wind and brass section gives a lot of textures and colors to paint with and the result is a fascinating album. The ideas are big, the details are never lost, and the arrangements never overwhelm the tunes, leaving much space for group and individual improvisation.
Luis Lopes Humanization Quartet (CF 105)
Luis Lopes, Adam Lane, Igal Foni – What is When (CF 146)
Afterfall – Afterfall (CF 208)
Luis Lopes – Lisbon Berlin Trio (CF 234)
The week before, or so, I just had seen passing a link to Luis Lopes’s new release and artist pages. I rarely visit such pages, I must admit, but this time I can’t tell why, I felt I really should. So I did. I only had heard about and seen his name before, but never actually remember listening to him more. Luis Lopes is a guitarist from Portugal, living in Lisbon, playing in his own idiom, with his own technique, approach, all in once. As much a guitarist than a composer to my eyes, someone that looks further inside the music, beyond the note, but with it as a departure point. You may remind a certain post free jazz school while listening to him, but he won’t let you there alone, not standing, not “in the tradition”. For me his music rings many more underneath and deep inside, in the core. In fact his way to play and organize his bands, his frames, his landscapes seems much more like someone opening up a new one and bringing all his memories, desires, pictures and momentums inside. Someone looking to dialogue with the elements, with others too. His guitar playing is very subtile, ranging on a large scale of dynamics, some upfront playing, some side ways, sometime bellow and the next moment on top. His bands (each album a different project here), also refletcs this very sharply and smartly. Colorsand People, individuals and orchestral ranges, each a strong role in the same room, altogether. Then we played duet with Manuel Mota in Lisbon, and there he was outside after the show, Luis Lopes, and he gave me those four beautiful albums, and i wanted to tell you about. So I did.
Luis Lopes – Lisbon Berlin Trio (CF 234)
Luis Lopes has been making a name for himself in Portugal and the world at large with some premier avant electric guitar for the Humanization 4tet and other luminaries. His latest album Lisbon Berlin Trio (Clean Feed 234) shows him pulling every musical rabbit out of his considerable hat. It’s Lopes with Robert Landfermann, contrabass, and Christian Lillinger on drums, a very game combination that gives Luis plenty of torque whether it’s for free-falling cosmic onslaughts or pulse-implied torrid burning.
Luis sounds especially inspired for this one–very electric and avant, in his own way a smartly conceived synthesis of Sharrock’s electric barrage with a McLaughlin line scorch and the guitar-color sensitivity of Derek Bailey.
It has moments of relative calm and room for some very interesting bass and rhythm section presence.
He is from the evidence here rapidly becoming a key stylistic presence in the avant-free guitar world. Miss this one and you will miss something that may cause you remiss. All plectrists and friends of stringers, take note!